FIFTH SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 38132/03 
by Zdeněk HAMBÁLEK 
against the Czech Republic

The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 9 May 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr P. Lorenzen, President
 Mrs S. Botoucharova
 Mr K. Jungwiert
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr J. Borrego Borrego, 
 Mrs R. Jaeger, judges
and Ms C. Westerdiek, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 21 November 2003,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.

Having regard to the decision to grant priority to the above application under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.

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 Zdeněk Hambálek, is a Czech national who was born in 1957 and lives in Opava. He is represented before the Court by Mr J. Vyroubal, a lawyer practising in Moravská Ostrava. The Czech Government (“the Government”) are represented by their Agent, Mr V.A. Schorm, Ministry of Justice.

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

On 27 April 1993 the applicant’s minor daughter, born on 23 April 1983, sustained a serious accident. She was medically treated at the Opava State Hospital and Ostrava Faculty Hospital but the accident caused her irremediable damage.

On 12 December 1996 the applicant’s daughter brought proceedings for damages against the two medical institutions before the Ostrava District Court (okresní soud). She was represented before the court by the applicant.

Between October 1997 and July 1998 the District Court took a number of procedural steps. On 28 August and 30 September 1998 respectively, it held two hearings. Between December 1998 and August 2000 further procedural steps were carried out.

On 21 August 2000 the District Court held a hearing.

During the period from September 2000 to December 2003 the case of the applicant’s daughter continued to be dealt with by the courts.

On 23 April 2001 the applicant’s daughter reached majority.

On 13 January 2003 the District Court held a hearing.

On 28 February 2003 the applicant, acting in his daughter’s name, withdrew the action as a consequence of delays in the proceedings. On 25 April 2003 the District Court discontinued the proceedings. Its decision became effective on 27 May 2003.

COMPLAINT

Invoking Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the applicant complains about the length of the proceedings.

THE LAW

The applicant submitted that the length of the proceedings in issue had infringed Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, inter alia:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a]... tribunal ...”

The Government first submit that the applicant, acting in the national proceedings as his daughter’s representative, cannot claim to be a victim within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention. Nor can he be, in the Government’s opinion, in a position of an indirect victim. Assuming that he could claim to be a victim until 23 April 2001, when his daughter reached majority, his application was lodged outside the six-month time-limit within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention. The Government further pointed out that the applicant waived his rights by having withdrawn his action for damages before the District Court decided on its merits.

The applicant disputes the Government’s arguments. He adduces to the Court “an affidavit of Zdeňka Humbálková, direct victim” dated 18 July 2005 signed by his daughter, in which she described, inter alia, her family situation during the judicial proceedings and expressed her intention to join the proceedings before the Court initiated by her father.

The Government point out that this part of the application is outside the six-months’ time-limit within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention.

The Court finds that the application is inadmissible for the following reasons.

As regards the applicant

The Court considers that the applicant was not a party to the proceedings in question, which concerned only his daughter. It reiterates the provisions of Article 34 of the Convention according to which the Court may receive applications “from any person ... claiming to be the victim of a violation ... of the rights set forth in the Convention ...”.

The Court notes that the applicant cannot complain of the length of proceedings to which he was not a party, despite the fact that he acted as the representative of his then minor daughter.

It follows that, as far as the applicant is concerned, the application is incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention for the purposes of Article 35 § 3.

As regards the applicant’s daughter

The Court observes that the final decision in the present case, within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention, was the decision of the Ostrava District Court adopted on 25 April 2003. This decision became final on 27 May 2003. However, the applicant’s daughter joined the procedure before the Court on 18 July 2005, which is more than six months after the District Court’s finalised decision.

It follows that this part of the application falls outside the six months’ time-limit and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

Accordingly, Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should no longer apply to the case.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Claudia Westerdiek  Peer Lorenzen 
 Registrar President

HAMBÁLEK v. THE CZECH REPUBLIC DECISION


HAMBÁLEK v. THE CZECH REPUBLIC DECISION