THIRD SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 23552/02 
by Talip KÖKLÜ 
against Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 30 March 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr B.M. Zupančič, President
 Mr J. Hedigan
 Mr R. Türmen
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr V. Zagrebelsky
 Mr E. Myjer, 
 Mr David Thór Björgvinsson, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 22 May 2002,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Talip Köklü, is a Turkish national who was born in 1940 and lives in Ordu. He is represented before the Court by Mr Vural Soytekin, a lawyer practising in Istanbul.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

On 3 September 1996 the applicant applied to the Giresun Forestry Management Directorate in order to cut 1/3 of the trees on his land. On 26 May 1997 the administration rejected his application on the ground that this part of the land was classified as forestland, therefore cutting of the trees therein was prohibited pursuant to the relevant legislation.

On 27 May 1997 the applicant brought an action before the Trabzon Administrative Court to annul the administration’s decision.

On 9 June 1997 the court notified the applicant’s lawyer in writing that the court charges have not been paid.

On 6 October 1997 the court further notified the applicant’s lawyer that the adjudication of the case would be discontinued until the court’s receipt of the relevant charges pursuant to Article 6/4 of the Code on Administrative Procedures. On 12 November 1997 the applicant’s lawyer paid the court charges.

On 17 June 1998 a new administrative court was established in Ordu to adjudicate on the legal claims in Ordu and Giresun provinces with a view to lightening the case-load of the Trabzon Administrative Court.

On 3 July 1998 the case was transferred to the newly established Ordu Administrative Court which immediately started the proceedings by requesting the Ankara General Directorate of Forestry to submit their observations on the merits of the case.

On 18 February 1999 the Ankara General Directorate of Forestry submitted their arguments on the merits of the case together with a report on the classification of the location of the applicant’s land supported by the relevant evidence.

On 13 July 1999 the Ordu Administrative Court rejected the applicant’s claim for annulment of the administration’s decision.

On 22 October 1999 the applicant appealed against this judgment before the Supreme Administrative Court.

On 26 October 1999 the Supreme Administrative Court notified the applicant’s lawyer that the court charges had not been paid and informed him that the adjudication of the case would be discontinued until the court’s receipt of such payment. On 9 November 1999 the applicant’s lawyer paid the said charges.

On 8 November 2001 the Supreme Administrative Court rejected his appeal against the administrative court’s judgment.

On 3 December 2001 the administrative court’s judgment was communicated to the applicant.

COMPLAINT

The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the civil proceedings was unreasonably long.

THE LAW

The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of the length of the administrative proceedings, which lasted approximately four years and five months.

The Government argued that the applicant has failed to comply with the six-month rule in filing his application with the Court. On 8 November 2001 the Supreme Administrative Court rejected his appeal against the administrative court’s judgment, whereas the application was filed with the Court on 22 May 2002. Therefore it should be declared inadmissible for non-compliance with the six-month rule.

The Court notes that the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision of 8 November 2001 was communicated to the applicant on 3 December 2001. Therefore, the application was filed with the Court on a timely basis.

The Government contended that the total length of the administrative proceedings cannot be fully attributed to the conduct of the State authorities as the applicant’s lawyer failed to act with diligence throughout the trial process.

They further contended that the applicant’s lawyer himself had been partly responsible for the delay, because he failed to pay on time the legal fees twice during the proceedings before the administrative court and once before the Supreme Administrative Court. He duly received warnings on both occasions.

On 6 October 1997 and 26 October 1999 he was informed that if he failed to render the required payment within 30 days of his receipt of this warning, the adjudication of his case would be discontinued. The applicant’s lawyer finally made the required payments on 12 November 1997 and 9 November 1999 respectively. In sum, the Government contend that a period of 4 months and 18 days during which the relevant charges were not paid cannot be attributed to the State Authorities.

The applicant contested that argument.

The Court observes that the proceedings started on 27 May 1997, when the applicant lodged his claim with the Trabzon Administrative Court, and that they were terminated with the Supreme Administrative Court’s judgment of 8 November 2001. Accordingly, the period to be considered is approximately 4 years and 5 months.

The Court will examine the reasonableness of that period in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the criteria established by its case-law, particularly the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and of the relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicant in the dispute (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII, and Humen v. Poland [GC], no. 26614/95, § 60, 15 October 1999).

As regards the nature of the case, the Court observes that as the determination of the claim involved the need to obtain expert evidence, it was of a certain complexity. Furthermore, the Court observes that a period of inactivity consisting of 4 months and 18 days arose from the neglect of the applicant’s lawyer to pay the court charges on a timely basis.

As regards the conduct of the judicial authorities, the Court observes that during the period under consideration the case was heard by the courts at two instances. No inordinate delay occurred in the correspondence conducted between the administration and the first instance court. Consequently, the Court considers that the authorities displayed due diligence in handling the applicant’s case.

It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič  
 Registrar President

KÖKLÜ v. TURKEY DECISION


KÖKLÜ v. TURKEY DECISION