(Application no. 24280/09)
4 October 2011
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Büyükkol v. Turkey,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Dragoljub Popović, President,
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, judges,
and Françoise Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 13 September 2011,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 24280/09) against the Republic of Turkey lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by two Turkish nationals, Ms Hatice Büyükkol and Ms Berna Büyükkol (“the applicants”), on 6 April 2009.
2. The applicants were represented by Mr Y. Ertan, a lawyer practising in Istanbul. The Turkish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent.
3. On 2 November 2010 the President of the Second Section decided to give notice of the application to the Government.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicants were born in 1980 and 2000 respectively and live in Istanbul.
5. The first applicant’s husband, who is also the second applicant’s father, deceased in a car accident in 2001. Subsequently, on 7 November 2001 the applicants initiated proceedings before the Şişli Civil Court of General Jurisdiction, claiming compensation from those liable of the accident.
6. On 20 July 2006 the Şişli Civil Court partially accepted the case and awarded the applicants a total of 25,705 Turkish Liras (TRY)1 for pecuniary damage and TRY 5,0002 for non-pecuniary damage, plus all interest that would be applicable to that amount.
7. On 13 May 2008 the Court of Cassation upheld the judgment of the first-instance court with a minor amendment. On 23 October 2008 it rejected the defendant party’s request for rectification.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
8. The applicants complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement, laid down in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which reads as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
9. The Government contested that argument. They maintained that the impugned proceedings could not be considered to have been excessively long in view of the complexity of the case, the difficulties in collecting evidence and the notification process. They concluded therefore that there had been no delay in the proceedings that may be attributable to the State.
10. The period to be taken into consideration began on 7 November 2001 and ended on 23 October 2008. It thus lasted six years and eleven months for two levels of jurisdiction.
11. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
12. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present case (see Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, §§ 42 – 46, ECHR 2000-VII; and Daneshpayeh v. Turkey, no. 21086/04, §§ 26 – 29, 16 July 2009).
13. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present case. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
14. Relying upon Articles 1 and 6 § 1 of the Convention, the applicants complained about the outcome of the proceedings before the Şişli Civil Court of General Jurisdiction. They maintained, in particular, that the non-pecuniary compensation awarded by the domestic court was insufficient.
15. The Court notes that the complaint under Article 1 of the Convention should be evaluated from the standpoint of Article 6 § 1 alone. It reiterates that it is not a court of fourth instance and it is not its function to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention (see García Ruiz v. Spain [GC], no. 30544/96, § 28, ECHR 1999-I; Streletz, Kessler and Krenz v. Germany [GC], nos. 34044/96, 35532/97 and 44801/98, § 49, ECHR 2001-II; and Göktaş v. Turkey, no. 66446/01, §§ 32-34, 29 November 2007). It also points out that it is not its task to review the assessment of evidence by a national court, unless it is arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable (see Camilleri v. Malta (dec.), no. 51760/99, 16 March 2000).
16. Accordingly, in the light of all the material in its possession, and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, the Court finds that there is no appearance of any violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
17. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
18. The applicants did not submit a claim for just satisfaction. Accordingly, the Court considers that there is no call to award them any sum on that account.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the complaint concerning the excessive length of the proceedings admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 4 October 2011, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Françoise Elens-Passos Dragoljub
Deputy Registrar President
BÜYÜKKOL v. TURKEY JUDGMENT
BÜYÜKKOL v. TURKEY JUDGMENT