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THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Miroslav Chroust, is a Czech national who was born in 1949 and lives in Prague. He is represented before the Court by Mr E. Janča, of the Czech Bar. The Government are represented by their Agent, Mr V.A. Schorm.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

In 1972 the applicant joined the armed forces: he worked as a warder in the prison service, then in the police (National Security Corps at the time) until 16 February 1990, the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy, the Federal Security Intelligence Service (Federální bezpečnostní informační služba) – which was dissolved on 31 December 1992 by Law no. 543/1992 – and, from 1 January 1993 to 30 April 1994, in the Security Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic (Bezpečnostní informační služba České republiky, hereafter the “SIS”). On that last date he stopped working and applied for a service allowance (příspěvek za službu), as provided for by law.

On 3 June 1994 the social security department of the Ministry of the Interior decided, by virtue of sections 129 and 130 of Law no. 527/1992 on the SIS, and having regard to the fact that the applicant had served in the armed forces for twenty-three years, to grant him a service allowance as of 1 May 1994.

On 1 December 1994 and 28 June 1995 the director of the SIS informed the applicant that his allowance had been raised.

On 26 April 1996 the director of the SIS informed the applicant that the raise in his allowance had been wrongfully awarded as it did not apply to allowances awarded under Law no. 527/1992, and ordered him to refund the surplus. He did, however, confirm the applicant's entitlement to the service allowance as determined on 3 June 1994. The applicant challenged the decision, alleging that the SIS had a duty to pay and adjust his allowance. Having obtained no satisfaction from the SIS, he asked the Prague 5 district court (Obvodní soud) to order the SIS to raise his allowance. The court issued a decision of non-jurisdiction, terminating the proceedings. It also noted that it had not been for the Ministry of the Interior to take the decision concerning the applicant's initial application for an allowance when he left the service, and that the decision of 3 June 1994 was therefore void. The case was referred to the director of the SIS.

On 27 July 2000 the director of the SIS decided, with immediate effect, that the applicant was not entitled to a service allowance. He noted that the decision of 3 June 1994 had been taken by an authority that had no power to take such a decision as it was a matter for the director of the SIS to decide. That being so, he decided that the applicant did not meet the length-of-service requirement as, under section 158 of Law no. 527/1992, only the periods of service after 16 February 1990 could be taken into account.

On 21 August 2000 the applicant appealed, arguing that his right to receive the disputed allowance had been acknowledged by previous acts of the director of the SIS and that his years of service from 1972 to 1990 should also be taken into account.

In a decision of 5 January 2001 the director of the SIS rejected the appeal and upheld the earlier decision. He maintained, first of all, that his predecessor's actions, on 1 December 1994, 28 June 1995 and 26 April 1996, had been merely informative and could not be considered formal decisions; the first formal decision had been that of 27 July 2000. As to the period of service that should be taken into consideration when determining entitlement to the allowance, the director considered, having examined the relevant provisions of Law no. 572/1992, that in the present case only the years of service after 1990 could be taken into account. He also noted that each law contained its own regulations governing the conditions under which the service allowance should be granted, and that in so far as entitlement to the allowance was linked to the beneficiary's leaving the armed forces, the obligations transferred by virtue of section 35 of Law no. 244/1991 could not include those concerning the service allowance.

On 14 March 2001 the applicant lodged an appeal with the Prague Municipal Court (Městský soud, “the Municipal Court”) to have the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001 reviewed. He complained that he had been deprived of a “welfare” benefit he had been awarded by an allegedly correct final decision (res judicata) and challenged the selective and discriminatory interpretation of Law no. 572/1992 developed in the impugned decisions. Other categories of staff assigned to comparable duties were treated differently in that they received the allowance at issue, he argued.

On 15 March 2001 the applicant challenged the same decisions in a constitutional appeal, alleging that they violated the principles of equality and legal certainty, as well as the principles of the rule of law according to which public authority must be exercised within the limits of the law and administrative acts are presumed to be valid. In this appeal he reiterated the objections raised in his 14 March 2001 appeal concerning the discriminatory interpretation of section 158 of Law no. 527/1992, the different treatment to which he alleged he had been subjected and the fact that he had been deprived of a “welfare” benefit. In supplementary pleadings dated 27 November 2001 the applicant complained that he had been discriminated against and, to all intents and purposes, penalised for having worked for the SIS, arguing that if he had left the armed forces on 31 December 1992 he would have been entitled to the disputed allowance (under Law no. 100/1970).

On 11 March 2002 the Municipal Court terminated the proceedings, pointing out that under the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the (new) Law no. 154/1994 on the SIS, the courts no longer had jurisdiction to review decisions taken by the SIS.

On 27 August 2002 the Second Section of the Constitutional Court (Ústavní soud) rejected the applicant's appeal as manifestly ill-founded. It held that the applicant was merely disputing the findings of the impugned decisions, though these were based on an interpretation which remained within the bounds of the Constitution. Given that the decision of 3 June 1994 (whereby the applicant was initially granted the disputed allowance) had been taken by a body without authority to take it, the Constitutional Court considered it null and void.

The applicant enclosed a 9 October 2003 judgment delivered by the Fourth Section of the Constitutional Court in a similar case concerning V.M. (see Relevant domestic law and practice).

New application by the applicant

On 11 February 2001 the applicant submitted a new application for an allowance to the social security department of the Ministry of the Interior in respect of the time he had served in the armed forces up to 31 December 1992, prior to joining the SIS. He alleged that when he had moved from the National Security Corps to the Federal Security Intelligence Service (in keeping with the provisions of section 35 § 1 of Law no. 244/1991), he had acquired the right to the service allowance by virtue of Law no. 100/1970, and that the corresponding obligation had been transferred to the Federal Security Intelligence Service and subsequently, upon the liquidation of the Federal Security Intelligence Service, to the Czech Republic (by virtue of section 9 § 4 of Law no. 543/1992).

The application was forwarded to the SIS, whose director informed the applicant in a letter dated 21 November 2002 that he had no right to the allowance as his period of service had not terminated on 31 December 1992 in such a way as to entitle the applicant to claim the allowance under the provisions of Law no. 100/1970. As there was no entitlement, the obligation to pay the allowance could not have been transferred to the SIS and there was no reason to take a decision.

Considering that his request had not been duly processed, the applicant took court action challenging the inactivity of the SIS. He mentioned that there were three other people in the same situation and that in one of those cases (V.M.) the Constitutional Court had found a violation of the Constitution.

On 27 October 2004 the Prague Municipal Court dismissed the claim, affirming that when the SIS had ruled on 27 July 2000 on the applicant's initial 1994 claim it had taken into account the applicant's service during the period when Law no. 100/1970 was in force, and concluded that his right to the impugned allowance did not exist as at 31 December 2002. As decisions on the merits of the applicant's claim had been handed down on 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001, even though the applicant disagreed with them, there was no reason to order the SIS to reconsider its decision. The Court also reiterated that, under Law no. 100/1970, those persons who had taken on new functions in the armed forces were not entitled to the service allowance, that the applicant's employment in the Federal Security Intelligence Service had come to an end with that body's disappearance on 31 December 1992, which had entitled him to severance pay (but not the service allowance), and that since 1 January 1993 his rights and obligations had been governed by Law no. 527/1992. That law made it quite clear that only service completed in institutions protecting the principles of democratic government should be taken into account when calculating length of service. As to the difference between the applicant's situation and that of V.M., the court pointed out that the Constitutional Court had not examined whether their respective claims to the allowance were legitimate, but simply whether the decision of the Ministry of the Interior had been valid, having regard to the assumption that administrative acts are valid.

On 13 December 2004 the applicant challenged this judgment on points of law and that appeal was still pending on 27 October 2005, the date of the respondent Government's submissions.

B.  Relevant domestic law and practice

Law no. 100/1970 regulating service in the National Security Corps

Section 110 § 1 states that members of the aforesaid Corps who apply to terminate their “relation of service” (služební poměr) or are dismissed for certain specific reasons are entitled to a service allowance.

Under section 110 § 3 the allowance is not payable to people who take up (new) functions in the armed forces.

Similar provisions concerning service allowances are to be found in the laws regulating service in the Czech police (no. 186/1992) and regular members of the armed forces (no. 221/1999).

Law no. 244/1991 on the Federal Security Intelligence Service (in force from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 1992)

Under section 35 § 1 of this law members of the National Security Corps who occupy posts in the Federal Intelligence Service become members of the Federal Security Intelligence Service as of the day on which this law enters into force; on that same day the rights and obligations associated with their service are transferred from the Ministry of the Interior to the Federal Security Intelligence Service.

Section 35 § 2 stipulates that until laws are passed regulating the relation of service of the members of the Federal Security Intelligence Service, that relation shall be regulated by Law no. 100/1970.

Law no. 543/1992 on the dissolution of the Federal Security Intelligence Service (entered into force on 31 December 1992)

Under section 9 § 1 the relation of service of members of the Federal Security Intelligence Service ends with the Service's dissolution on 31 December 1992; the persons concerned are entitled to severance pay.

Under the terms of section 9 § 4 the rights and obligations arising out of the relation of service thus terminated which have not been assumed by the Federal Security Intelligence Service are transferred to the State.

Law no. 527/1992 on the Security Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic (SIS) (in force from 24 November 1992 to 30 July 1994)

Under section 129 § 1 the service allowance is payable to those members of said service who apply to terminate their service or are dismissed for certain specific reasons.

Under the terms of section 129 § 2 a person who immediately enters into a relation of service regulated by another law upon termination of his or her service under this law is not entitled to the allowance.

Under section 130 § 1 the allowance is payable to members who have been in service for at least ten years, or have reached the age of fifty by the time they leave.

Section 158 stipulates that when an employee of the Federal Ministry of the Interior takes up service in accordance with this law after previously occupying a post in the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy or the Federal Intelligence Service, or being a member of the Federal Security Intelligence Service, the service completed therein and the resulting rights shall be considered as being part of the service completed under this law.

Law no. 154/1994 on the Security Intelligence Service (in force since 30 July 1994)

Under section 120 § 1 the service allowance is payable to members who served for at least ten years in the bodies mentioned in section 116. Section 116 stipulates that the periods served by members of the National Security Corps who occupied posts in the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy or the Federal Intelligence Service, and also the time served in the Federal Security Intelligence Service and the Security Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic are taken into account.

Constitutional Court Judgment no. IV. ÚS 150/01, delivered on 9 October 2003 in the V.M. case

The applicant, V.M., was deprived of his service allowance by decision of the director of the SIS after receiving it for six years by virtue of a decision of the social security department of the Ministry of the Interior.

The Constitutional Court held that his application was justified, considering that it was necessary to protect the applicant's good faith and that the social security department had the power to decide to whom the allowance should be awarded, that power having been transferred to it by the SIS in an agreement concluded between them (which had been in force from 1991 to 1995). The Constitutional Court accordingly set aside the disputed decisions of the director of the SIS, considering that they had violated the applicant's fundamental rights, as well as constitutional principles. While it did not have the authority to decide whether V.M. was entitled to the allowance, the Constitutional Court noted that when that matter was examined, the criteria specified in the Strasbourg Court's judgment in the case of Bucheň v. the Czech Republic (no. 36541/97, 26 November 2002) could not be ignored.

COMPLAINTS

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2.      Under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 the applicant alleged that the decision not to raise the service allowance (linked to the end of the relation of service) granted to him in 1994 by a final administrative decision presumed to be valid, and the decision depriving him of the aforesaid allowance, violated his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. According to him these arbitrary decisions deprived him of part of his property without there being a legitimate aim or a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought.

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THE LAW

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2.  Secondly, the applicant complained that the decisions not to raise the service allowance he had been granted in 1994, then to deprive him of the allowance altogether, violated his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. He relied on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, which provides:

“1.  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.

2.  The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right 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 the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

2.1.  The Government submitted that the complaint was incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention: as the legal conditions governing entitlement to a service allowance had not been fulfilled, the applicant could not be said to have a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The service allowance was a form of pension awarded, by Parliament's sovereign decision, to former members of the armed forces having completed a certain length of service and whose service had been terminated in a certain way. It followed that the right to the service allowance arose only on the date on which the period of service came to an end, and that it was governed by the law in force on that date.

The Government reiterated that the rights and obligations linked to the service completed by the applicant between 1 June 1972 and 31 December 1992, and in particular the conditions under which the service allowance was awarded, had been regulated by Law no. 100/1970. The applicant's relation of service with the Federal Security Intelligence Service had been terminated by virtue of Law no. 543/1992 (and not in the manner provided for under section 110 § 1 of Law no. 100/1970) and the applicant had then entered into a new relation of service with the SIS (a situation provided for in section 110 § 3), regulated by Law no. 527/1992. As that law had entered into force on 24 November 1992, the date of its publication, the Government considered that the applicant had had sufficient time to decide whether to accept the relevant legislation before joining the SIS on 1 January 1993. The applicant had subsequently left the SIS on 30 April 1994, at which time he did not fulfil the requirements that would have entitled him to the allowance under sections 129, 130 and 158 of Law no. 527/1992.

The Government conceded that in its decision of 3 June 1994, when calculating the requisite length of service the Ministry of the Interior had taken into account the periods during which the applicant had served in posts not covered by Law no. 527/1991; his right to the service allowance had then been confirmed by the information letter dated 26 April 1996. That was no reason, however, for the applicant to harbour any legitimate expectation that an unlawful administrative decision would never be set right.

The applicant considered this objection unjustified and too formalistic. He argued that it was evident from the whole context of the case that his constitutional appeal had concerned his economic and social rights.

Consequently, the Court must first examine the applicability of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the case at issue, which the Government have disputed. In this connection, the Court points out that the Convention institutions have consistently held that “possessions” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 can be either “existing possessions” (see Van der Mussele v. Belgium, judgment of 23 November 1983, Series A no. 70, p. 23, § 48, and Gratzinger and Gratzingerova v. the Czech Republic, (dec.) [GC], no. 39794/98, ECHR 2002-VII, § 69) or assets, including claims, in respect of which an applicant can argue that he has at least a “legitimate expectation” that they will be realised (see, for example, Pressos Compania Naviera S.A. and Others v. Belgium, judgment of 20 November 1995, Series A no. 332, § 31, and Ouzounis and Others v. Greece, no. 49144/99, § 24, 18 April 2002). Furthermore, Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 is not applicable to future earnings, but only to income once it has been earned or where an enforceable claim to it exists (see, inter alia, Van Marle and Others v. the Netherlands, judgment of 26 June 1986, Series A no. 101, p. 13, §§ 39-41, and Buzescu v. Romania, no. 61302/00, § 81, 24 May 2005).

In the present case the applicant received a service allowance from the adoption of the decision of 3 June 1994 until that decision was declared null and void by the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001, which took immediate effect. There is no denying that until the two subsequent decisions were adopted the applicant had every reason to believe, in all good faith, that he was entitled to receive the allowance until he reached the age limit prescribed by law. It does not matter that the applicant acquired that entitlement as a result of a mistaken decision in his favour – when it comes to protecting privileges granted by law, the Convention applies when the privileges concerned give rise to a legitimate expectation of acquiring certain possessions (see, mutatis mutandis, Wendenburg and Others v. Germany (dec.), no. 71630/01, ECHR 2003-II). This was indeed the case here, at least between 1994 and 2000, when the applicant had a “legitimate expectation” that his “assets” would be realised, based on a legal decision, namely the final administrative decision of 3 June 1994 (see, a contrario, Gratzinger and Gratzingerova v. the Czech Republic, (dec.), cited above, § 73).

The Court accordingly considers that the applicant did have a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, and was deprived thereof by the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001, which amounted to an interference with his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.

The Government's objection of incompatibility ratione materiae must therefore be rejected.

2.2.  The Government also pleaded non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, submitting that the applicant had not mentioned this grievance in his appeal to the Constitutional Court on 15 March 2001, and that his appeal on points of law in the new proceedings initiated in 2001 was still pending.

The applicant noted that the subject of his new appeal, lodged in 2001, differed from that of his appeal to the Court as it concerned his right to the service allowance in respect of his relation of service up to 31 December 1992, when it was terminated, a right that fell within the scope of Law no. 100/1970 (and not Law no. 527/1992). The outcome of the appeal on points of law which the Government referred to could therefore have no bearing on his application before the Court.

The Court does not accept the Government's objection that the applicant did not raise this grievance before the Czech Constitutional Court. While it is true that he did not, in his constitutional appeal, invoke the national legislation or the articles of the Convention which guarantee the right to property, he did complain that he had been deprived of a “welfare” benefit in contradiction with the principle of legal certainty, and that he was a victim of economic discrimination.

In these circumstances the Court considers that the right to peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions was in issue, if only implicitly, in the proceedings before the Czech Constitutional Court and that the legal arguments put forward by the applicant in that court included a complaint connected with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The complaint in question was therefore raised, at least in substance, before the Constitutional Court.

As to the applicant's appeal on points of law on 13 December 2004 in connection with his new application, which was still pending when the Government submitted their observations, the Court accepts the applicant's argument that the appeal concerned another claim. In his new action in February 2001 the applicant was applying for the service allowance under the provisions of Law no. 100/1970, whereas his application to the Court concerned the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001, and the allegedly arbitrary interpretation of Law no. 527/1992 on which they were based.

Accordingly, the Government's objection based on non-exhaustion of domestic remedies fails.

2.3.  As to the merits of the complaint, even assuming that the applicant could claim to have a “legitimate expectation” of obtaining payment of the service allowance, the Government claimed that the interference should be regarded as a measure to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest, within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. According to the Government, the interference satisfied the requirements of legality, legitimacy and proportionality. The director of the SIS had refused to pay the applicant the service allowance because he did not meet the requirements laid down in sections 129, 130 and 158 of Law no. 527/1992. The Government maintained that that decision had been intended to bring an abnormal situation into conformity with the law (the applicant having been awarded the allowance illegally in the first place) and pursued the legitimate aim enshrined in Laws nos. 527/1992 and 154/1994. The purpose of these laws had been to set up a counter-espionage system based on democratic principles. This explained why the laws had been intended to restrict the service allowance to those who had served in the intelligence services after democracy had been restored and not in the armed forces which had flouted human rights and fundamental freedoms before 1989. Finally, the applicant had been deprived of the disputed allowance ex nunc, i.e. he had not been required to reimburse the amount received since 1994; that being so, the Government argued, the burden on him could not be said to be disproportionate.

The applicant considered that the Government's arguments failed to take into account the context of the case or the judgment delivered by the Constitutional Court in the V.M. case. His legitimate expectation to be paid the allowance at issue was based on a valid, final decision issued by a public authority, on the strength of which he had received the allowance in question for six years. Depriving him of the allowance amounted to interference inconsistent with constitutional principles that was neither legitimate nor proportionate.

The applicant alleged that the way in which section 158 of Law no. 527/1992 had been interpreted in this case was selective, discriminatory and inconsistent with the obligation incumbent on the Czech Government under section 9 § 4 of Law no. 543/1992. He argued that the intention of section 158 of Law no. 527/1992 had been to include in the calculation of length of service for the purposes of awarding the allowance the whole time the person concerned had served in the Ministry of the Interior, while section 116 of Law no. 154/1994 had limited it to the time served in the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy, the Federal Security Intelligence Service and the Security Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic. Had the rules contained in the two laws been the same, the members of the Federal Security Intelligence Service would never have agreed, on 1 January 1993, to join the new Security Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic governed by Law no. 527/1992, and its work would have been compromised.

The applicant challenged the Government's argument that he had had ample time to familiarise himself with Law no. 527/1992, which entered into force on 24 November 1992. He pointed out that he had served in the Federal Security Intelligence Service until it was dissolved by Law no. 543/1992, which had not been published until 8 December 1992. Moreover, he would never have joined the SIS if its representatives had not promised him that all the rights he had accrued during his years of service would be maintained, which he considered was in keeping with section 158 of Law no. 527/1992 and the Ministry of the Interior's interpretation thereof (in the decision of 3 June 1994). Furthermore, as he was no expert on legal matters, it was unfair to expect him to master the new legislation, especially as even the authorities had been unable to agree on an interpretation.

Under the circumstances the applicant was convinced that the national authorities, which had mistakenly interpreted section 158 of Law no. 527/1992 and had failed to take into account the succession of their obligations under section 9 § 4 of Law no. 543/1992, had violated his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.

In view of its finding, above, that there was interference with the applicant's right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions, in the form of a measure to control the use of property, the Court must consider whether that measure was justified under the provisions of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

As to whether the interference was legal, the Court notes that the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001, confirmed by the Constitutional Court on 27 August 2002, were based on sections 129, 130 and 158 of Law no. 527/1992, as interpreted in this case by the director of the SIS. The Court notes here that the service allowance is not a social security benefit, like an old-age pension, entitlement to which is conditional on the payment of contributions. As the respondent Government pointed out, it is a special allowance awarded by the State, at its discretion, to former members of the armed forces in consideration of difficult working conditions and the constraints imposed on the persons concerned as a result of the characteristics of the job. That being so, it is not for the Court to restrict the authorities' freedom to determine the scope of the legislation it adopts in the matter, or the conditions of eligibility for the allowance. Accordingly, it was for the competent national authorities to interpret the relevant laws.

In this case the decisions challenged by the applicant cannot be said to be without reasonable foundation. In the Court's opinion there is no element of arbitrariness in the national authorities' interpretation of section 158 of Law no. 527/1992 according to which it was quite clear from the wording of the provision that the intention was to include in the length of service taken into consideration not all the time spent in the service of the Ministry of the Interior, as the applicant claimed, but only the time served by staff in that ministry in the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy or the Federal Intelligence Service. That being so, the Court considers that the impugned interference was in conformity with domestic law and its aim was in the general interest, namely to enforce the law and put a stop to a situation where a person was receiving an allowance from the State to which he was not entitled.

The Court must therefore examine the proportionality of the interference and establish whether the burden the disputed decisions brought to bear on the applicant was disproportionate. It must be noted in this connection that the decision of 3 June 1994, declared null and void in 2000 because it had been taken by an authority which did not have the power to take it, benefited the applicant, as he received the service allowance throughout that six-year period even though he did not fulfil the requirements stipulated in Law no. 527/1992 as interpreted by the competent authorities. This was why the decisions of 27 July 2000 and 5 January 2001 determined that the applicant had no right to receive the allowance, with effect ex nunc. The applicant has not been required to reimburse the money he received from the State between 1994 and 2000, even though the authorities now consider that he was never entitled to it.

States enjoy considerable latitude in how they organise their public services and remunerate their civil servants. In this case the Federal Security Intelligence Service, where the applicant worked until 31 December 1992, was dissolved by Law no. 543/1992 and a new intelligence service was established by Law no. 527/1992 to serve the Czech Republic, which had become an independent State. In the general context of transition to a democratic system, the authorities cannot be faulted for wanting to reorganise the intelligence services, inter alia, and to award the service allowance in the future only to people who had served in the democratic institutions. Moreover, the applicant had been free to decide whether or not to join the new service, regulated by Law no. 527/1992.

In the light of the above, the Court does not consider that the solution adopted in this case was disproportionate. In the Court's view the respondent Government did not overstep their margin of appreciation or fail to strike a fair balance between the various interests involved.

In view of this finding, the Court does not consider it necessary to examine the authorities' refusal to raise the allowance, the consequences of which are all the less serious in that it dates back to 26 April 1996.

It follows that this complaint must be rejected as manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

...

Application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention must therefore be terminated and the application declared inadmissible.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

DECISION CHROUST v. CZECH REPUBLIC


DECISION CHROUST v. CZECH REPUBLIC  


DECISION CHROUST v. CZECH REPUBLIC