APPLICATION N° 21775/93 Jose Joaquim AIRES v/PORTUGAL DECISION of 25 May 1995 on the admissibility of the apphcation Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Convention Inapplicable to a decision relating only to court costs as a subsidiary mutter Article 1, paragraph I of the First Protocol Inapplicable, for lack of any tnierfer ence with the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, to a decision on couit costs, especially considering the small amount involved and the subsidiary nature of the decision Article 1, paragraph 2 of the First Protocol Coutt costs are contributions ' within the meaning of this proMsion THE FACTS The applicant is a Portuguese citizen He was bom in 1950 and lives in Amadora (Portugal) He is a lawyer The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows Particular circumstances of the case On 15 November 1988 the applicant brought proceedings in Alfandega da Fe Court (tnbunal da comarca de Alfandega da Fe) against the distnct council for the recovery of land 48 In a judgment given widiout a hearing (saneador-sententja) on 9 May 1989, the court dismissed the applicant's claims on the ground that his wife was not a co-plaintiff which meant that he lacked locus standi The court ordered the applicant to pay the court costs The proceedings then went to the Constitutional Court After the case-lile was sent back to Alfandega da Fe Court, the registry drew up the statement of court costs The applicant was then requested to pay 5,000 escudos (PTE) (approximately 170 French francs (FRF)) in court costs On 16 June 1992 the applicant applied to the court for a review of the statement of costs He argued that as the scale of court costs had been increased by a law passed between the date of the costs order and the date on which his statement of costs was drawn up, the costs should have been assessed m accordance with the scale in force on the date of the order and not in accordance with the new scale He assessed this amount at PTE 3,500 and alleged that he had therefore suffered loss in the sum of PTE 1,500 (approximately FRF 50) On 22 September 1992 the court dismissed his complaint, stressing thai legislation amending rules of procedure is immediately enforceable The applicant was also ordered to pay the court costs of the application for review (PTE 5,000) This decision is not subject to further appeal Relevant domestic law and piaciice Following publication of Legislative Decree No 387-D/87 of 29 December 1987 increasing the scale of court costs and a number of court decisions delivered in inter partes proceedings on the application of that Decree to court costs. Legislative Decree No 92/88 was published on 17 March 1988 Article 5 para 2 of that Decree provides that " all statements of costs must be drawn up in accordance with the legislation in force on the date of the relevant decision ordering the party to pay the court costs" According to legal writers and the established case law of the higher courts, that is. the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, legislation on the scales, reduction or increase of court costs applies only to obligations to pay court costs arising while this legislation is in force The obligaiion ilself to pay coun costs anses when the decision is made containing an order for costs 49 COMPI AINTS 1 Ihe applicant invokes AIIKIC 6 par.i 1 ol Ilic ( niivciition, (.oiiiplaininj' lli.ii he did not have a fair heanng icgauhng llic i-ouils' ilctisions mi ihc toiiil tosis lie aigues that the (udge misdirecled liiinselt in law as il is Lk.ir liorii sl.ilulc, i.isc law aiul the wnlings of legal tommciilalors Ih.il slalcmeiils ot costs must IK: (li.iwn up in aLi-nnlanLL' with the legal provisions in lurte when the relevant iiklgnient is deliveinl lie aij'iits lurlher lh.il the oider lo p.iy the tosts ol bringing Ins loriipl.iml is pimilive .iinl liuuk is ihe Tight of access to a tourl 2 Hie applic Jill also i.uiiipl,uns thai llie (.otiils' dei isioiis resnliul in a vml uion ul his right to |x;acetul eii|oyiiicnl of his [K)sscssions .iiul he invokes Aiticli. I nt Prot(Kol No I lo Ihe ('(niveiition PROt'KKI)lN(;s l t F K ) R K l UK COMMISSION 1 he appliLalion was inliodnied on 11 I cbiu.iiy 199? and legisleicd on 28 A|Viil 1993 On 11 May 1994 Ihc (•t>niiiiissioii (Setoiiil Ch.nnlx.i) deiulLtl to givL imiiiL ol the jppliiJiioii lo llie respondeiU (luveninicni iiul lo in vile them to siilmiit llitii UIIIILII observations on its ailinissibihly and incuts Ihe Covet nnieni snlinnttod ihcir observalions on ^0 liily 1991 and the .ippliLaiil replied on 31 August 1994 On 24 May 1995 Ihe ('haml>ei rcliiuiuishcd iiiMsdKlion m lliis case in favoiii ol Ihe Plenary Commission IHK LAW I The applicant coniplains that he did not have a fair hearing regarding llie c<Hirts' decisions on the court costs He invokes Article f) para I of Ihc ( onveiilion wlin.li provides, in so far as relevant "In the determination of his civil rights and ot)ligalions , everyone is cnlitiLd to a fair and public hearing wilhin a reasonable time by an indefiendcnl and impartial tnbunal established by law " The Commission observes that the applicant's complaint relates only to decisions in relation to court costs Sucli decisions inhcrciilly concern matters which are subsidiary to the main issue in the substantive proceedings Ihc Commission observes that the question of court costs may also arise in proceedings regarding issues which clearly fall outside Ihe scope of Article 6 para I of Ihe Convention and that it would therefore be unreasonable lo require a special procedure, complying with the 30 requirements of that provision, for the determination of those costs The Commission stresses, moreover, thai Ihe applicant does not claim that the decisions on the court costs affected the fairness of the proceedings as a whole The Commission concludes that in so far as the impugned decisions concerned only the subsidiary issue of the order for court costs, they did not involve the determination of the applicant's civil nghls and obligations (see No 12446/86, Dec 5 5 88, DR 56 p 229 and No 18623/91, Dec 2 12 91, unpubhshed) It follows that this part of the application is incompatible rattone maienae with the provisions of the Convention and must be rejected pursuant to Article 27 para 2 of the Convention 2 The applicant complains further that the courts' decisions resulted in a violation of his right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions contrary to Article 1 of Protocol No 1 which provides that "Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law The preceding provisions shall not. however, in any way impair the nght of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure Ihe payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties The Government object from the outset that the case is incompatible ratione materiae with the Convention They submit that, as the domestic legislation on court costs does not fall within the scope of Article I of Protocol No 1, the Commission does not have jurisdiction lo examine this complainl In the alternative, Ihe Government argue that even supposing that the situation complained of by the applicant can be examined under this provision of the Convention, there is no appearance of a violation as the domestic courts confined their examination to interpreting and applying domestic legislation The fact that the applicant disagrees with the impugned decisions is insufficient to find a violation of the Convention, especially as the Convention institutions are not appellate bodies competent to review domestic courts' decisions The apphcant claims that as the judge misdirected him^elt m law, he has suffered an unjustified interference with his right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions The Commission first examined whether this provision of the Convention is applicable to the situation here It recalls that in its decisions S v FRO (No 7544/76, 51 Dec 12 7 78. DR 14 p 60) and X and Y v Austria (No 7909/74, Dec 12 10 78, D R 15 p 160) It decided that ihe costs of court proceedings were "contnbutions" within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No 1 As the second paragraph of that Article provides that member States may enforce such laws as they deem necessary to secure the payment of contributions, it may fall to the Commission, in accordance with its established case-law, to examine whether the interference, if any, with die applicant's nght to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions was justified under that provision The Commission observes nevertheless that in a later case it considered that the decision on the subsidiary matter of court cosis does not involve a determination of civd nghts and obligations (see the aforementioned Applications Nos 12446/86 and 18623/91) The Commission considers that this is an important development in its case-law which affects, to an extent, its decision on the issue before it The question arises as to how far, in view of ihe particular circumstances of the case, the costs order against the appbcant can be construed as an interference wilh his nght to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions, given that such a situation does not fall within the scope of Article 6 of the Convention, which, the Commission stresses, does apply to disputes concerning the nght to property As the determination of Ihe court costs is a subsidiary matter in this case which has no link with the main proceedings and as the amount involved is minimal, the Commission considers that the mere decision on the court costs to be ordered against the applicant when his case was dismissed could not in this case amount to a violation of the nght protected by Article 1 of Protocol No 1 It follows that the applicant's complaint falls outside the scope of Article 1 of Protocol No 1 This part of the application is therefore incompatible ralione materiae with the provisions of the Convention and must be rejected pursuant to Article 27 para 2 tiiereof For these reason^, the Commission, by a majonty, DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE 52