FOURTH SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 50224/99 
by Tatjana ŠIDLOVÁ 
against Slovakia

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 22 February 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mr J. Casadevall
 Mr M. Pellonpää
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr K. Traja
 Ms L. Mijović, 
 Mr J. Šikuta, judges
and Mr M. O'Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 12 June 1999,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mrs Tatjana Šidlová, is a Slovakian national, who was born in 1946 and lives in Bratislava.

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

1.  Proceedings concerning the applicant's late father's flat

The applicant's father lived in a rented flat until his death in 1994. The applicant's sister then unsuccessfully claimed the right to succeed to the father's tenancy rights.

On 12 June 1995 the landlord lodged a civil action against the applicant and her sister seeking an order for vacation of the flat.

On 8 December 1997 the Bratislava IV District Court (Okresný súd) granted the action, finding that the statutory conditions for the transfer of the tenancy were not fulfilled. The District Court observed that the applicant had her own flat and that her sister lived permanently abroad and had visited her father only rarely.

On 15 May 1998 the applicant challenged the judgment of 8 December 1997 by an appeal (odvolanie) contesting the objectiveness and fairness of the District Court's findings. She submitted that her father had intended her sister to take over the flat and that she was merely storing some movable items in it with her sister's consent. Therefore, in her view, the action was unfounded in so far as it was directed against her.

The Bratislava Regional Court (Krajský súd) listed a hearing of the appeal for 10 November 1998. The applicant gave a power of attorney to her friend to represent her at that hearing and to ask for an adjournment of it “in the event that she would be unable to appear in person due to her illness and the expected effects of the taking of blood samples” which had been scheduled for the morning of the day of the hearing.

On 9 November 1998 the applicant's sister lodged a counterclaim against the landlord seeking a judicial ruling that the tenancy of the flat had passed to her.

On 10 November 1998 the hearing took place in the absence of the applicant. The Regional Court dismissed her request for an adjournment, observing that the applicant had been duly summoned and that she had failed to support the request for an adjournment with any evidence. Following the hearing, on the same day, the Regional Court upheld the judgment of 8 December 1997 and decided that the counterclaim of the applicant's sister would be determined in a separate set of proceedings. The counterclaim is still pending.

It appears that on 15 February 1999 the applicant's sister challenged the above judgments by an appeal on points of law (dovolanie) and that on 4 March 1999 she amended it. On 13 March 2000 the applicant also filed an appeal on points of law against the above judgments. Both appeals appear to be still pending.

In the meantime the applicant had unsuccessfully requested that the Prosecutor General exercise his discretionary power to challenge the contested judgments by an extraordinary appeal on points of law (mimoriadne dovolanie).

On 16 March 2000 the applicant lodged a petition to reopen the proceedings, arguing that the courts had failed to establish the relevant facts adequately and to determine the case correctly. She also requested that she be exempted from the obligation to pay the court fee for the petition. The exemption was denied and on 24 March 2003 the District Court discontinued the proceedings on the petition as the applicant had failed to pay the court fee.

2.  Proceedings concerning the estate of the applicant's late father

The applicant's father owned a share in an undivided co-ownership of real property which is located in the cadastral area of Kysucké Nové Mesto.

On 25 November 1994 the Bratislava IV District Court opened inheritance proceedings concerning his estate. Under the applicable procedural rules the District Court entrusted the determination of the estate to a notary public.

On 26 November 1996 the notary issued an inheritance decree (osvedčenie o dedičstve) to the effect that the estate of the applicant's father comprised a half share in the above-mentioned real property and that the applicant had inherited half of that share (i.e. one quarter of the total). In the absence of any appeal, the decree became final and binding on 12 December 1996.

On 20 August 1997 the applicant sent a letter to the notary claiming that the decree of 26 November 1996 was incorrect in that it did not deal with all the immovable property which had belonged to her father. She demanded “that the inheritance proceedings continue and be completed”. On 22 August 1997 the applicant sent a similar letter to the District Court. She obtained no response.

On 19 May 1999 the applicant lodged a formal petition with the Čadca District Court for a determination of the part of her father's estate which was not covered by the decree of 26 November 1996 as a “newly discovered inheritance” within the meaning of Article 175x of the Code of Civil Procedure.

On 8 August 1999 the Čadca District Court for the judicial district in which the property lies transferred the case to the Bratislava IV District Court which had territorial competence to entertain it.

By a decision of 5 November 1999 the Kysucké Nové Mesto District Office expropriated land in the area concerned, including a part of the estate. The applicant filed a criminal complaint about, inter alia, the expropriation and lack of adequate compensation for it. The complaint was dealt with by the Kysucké Nové Mesto police and, on the applicant's complaint, by the Čadca District Prosecutor. They decided not to instigate any criminal proceedings in the matter, observing that financial compensation in respect of expropriated property the title to which was disputed or unknown had been deposited in a bank account of the Slovakian Real Estate Fund (Slovenský pozemkový fond).

On 13 March 2000 the Bratislava IV District Court entrusted the determination of the newly discovered estate to a notary public, who determined the matter by a new inheritance decree on 27 February 2001. In the absence of any appeal the decree became final and binding on 17 March 2001.

On 21 March 2001 the applicant made a written submission to the Bratislava IV District Court claiming that, despite the decree of 27 February 2001, the estate of her late father had still not been completely determined. The submission resulted in the opening of a new set of inheritance proceedings under Article 175x of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The District Court assigned the determination of the “newly discovered inheritance” to four different notaries successively. They were in turn all dismissed for bias. The matter is now still pending before a fifth notary.

On 28 January 2004 the Constitutional Court declared inadmissible the applicant's complaint, under Article 127 of the Constitution, of the length of the above inheritance proceedings. The Constitutional Court considered the matter as three separate sets of proceedings. As regards the first two sets, which had ended with the final and binding inheritance decrees of 26 November 1996 and 27 February 2001, the Constitutional Court found that the complaint was outside the statutory two-month time-limit. Insofar as the complaint concerned the third set of proceedings, which had commenced further to the applicant's submission of 21 March 2001, the Constitutional Court found that it was manifestly ill-founded.

3.  Libel action against the applicant

On 22 October 1996 the applicant's neighbour brought a civil action against her in the Bratislava IV District Court. He alleged that the applicant had publicly insulted him on numerous occasions and sought a judicial order that she apologise and pay him appropriate financial compensation.

On 22 January 1998 the District Court granted the action fully as regards the apology and partially as regards the compensation. The applicant challenged this judgment by an appeal.

On 26 February 1999 the Bratislava Regional Court held a hearing of the appeal. The applicant took part in the hearing and made an audio recording of it.

On 8 March 1999 the applicant lodged a complaint with the President of the Regional Court alleging that the judge presiding over the Regional Court's Chamber had molested her during the hearing of 26 February 1999. In a letter of 7 April 1999 the President of the Regional Court dismissed the complaint as being unsubstantiated. She pointed out inter alia that, in so far as the applicant had recorded the proceedings, she had done so without the permission of the presiding judge.

On 27 April 1999 the applicant reiterated her complaint to the President of the Regional Court arguing inter alia that, according to the Constitutional Court's jurisprudence, leave from the Court was not required for audio recordings of court hearings. The applicant's complaint was re-examined, the audio recording of the hearing was listened to and, in a letter of 12 July 1999, the President of the Regional Court accepted that the way in which the presiding judge had talked to the applicant had been inappropriate. She finally apologised to the applicant in the name of the court.

On 10 December 1999 the Regional Court upheld the judgment of 22 January 1998. Having examined the testimonies of several witnesses and comprehensive documentary evidence including a case-file from the 1980s concerning a civil action for annulment of the applicant's tenancy rights, the Regional Court observed inter alia that there had been a long history of in-house conflicts in which the applicant had been actively involved.

On 16 February 2000 the applicant challenged the judgment of 10 December 1999 by an appeal on points of law which is still pending.

In the proceedings the applicant unsuccessfully challenged the judges involved several times and especially the presiding judge of the Regional Court Chamber. She also unsuccessfully requested that she be assigned a lawyer free of charge and be exempted from the obligation to pay the court fee on the ground that she was indigent.

In July 2003 the applicant lodged a complaint about the length of the above proceedings with the Constitutional Court under Article 127 of the Constitution. In a submission of 20 April 2004 she specified that her complaint related exclusively to the part of the proceedings which concerned her appeal on points of law.

On 17 June 2004 the Constitutional Court found that there had been a violation of the applicant's right under Article 48 § 2 of the Constitution to a hearing without unjustified delay and of her right under Article 6 of the Convention to a hearing within a reasonable time in the proceedings on the appeal on points of law. The Constitutional Court made an order that these proceedings be pursued without unjustified delay and awarded the applicant reimbursement of her legal costs and 30,000 Slovakian korunas (SKK) by way of compensation in respect of her non-pecuniary damage.

4.  Persecution and harassment of the applicant

The applicant filed numerous criminal complaints concerning disturbances and harassment in the block of flats where she lives. She complained, among other things, of deliberate disruptions of common lighting, theft of a nametag from her mailbox, excessive noise, suspicious movement of unknown persons, verbal and telephonic threats, intrusive telephone ringing, unauthorised interference with her telephone communications, spying on her and pouring glue in the lock of her door. She directed the complaints against her neighbours and especially the neighbour who had filed the libel action (see above) against her and maintained that the harassment was systematic. She further directed the criminal complaints against third persons unknown and suggested that former members of the communist State Security Agency (“the StB”), members of the Slovak Intelligence Service and the underworld could be involved.

The complaints were first examined by the Dúbravka police and on the applicant's challenge for bias by the Karlová Ves police under the minor offences' procedure, which eventually led to no formal prosecution.

Under the Criminal Code, in order for an unlawful action to constitute a certain criminal offence, such as theft (Article 247 of the Criminal Code), embezzlement (Article 248 of the Criminal Code) or fraud (Article 250 of the Criminal Code), the damage caused by such an action must attain a minimum amount of twice the statutory minimum monthly salary (Article 89 of the Criminal Code) (see below).

In the evening of 2 October 1998 the applicant reported to the police that earlier that evening an unknown person had threatened her with a shotgun, hit her in the face and injured her finger in front of her flat. On 4 December 1998 she lodged a formal criminal complaint about the incident with the Bratislava IV District Police Department and produced a medical report documenting the injury to her face and finger. As the applicant subsequently challenged that police department for being biased, the investigation was conducted by the Stupava police.

The Stupava police treated the incident of 2 October 1998 as a minor offence and, on 1 December 1999, found that its prosecution was statute-barred. On 27 December 2000, on the applicant's complaint, the Bratislava IV District Prosecutor quashed the decision of 1 December 1999 as being premature and ordered the Stupava police to continue the investigation.

On 13 May 2001 the Stupava police stayed the proceedings finding that despite hearing five witnesses and seeking the assistance of the Bratislava IV and Bratislava V Police Departments it was not possible to identify a suspected perpetrator. On the applicant's complaints the decision was upheld by the District Prosecutor on 18 June 2001 and the Bratislava Regional Prosecutor on 17 July 2001.

In the meantime the applicant had been investigated for slander in a criminal complaint by an official of the Bratislava IV District Office (Okresný úrad) accusing her of telling people that he had been a member of the StB. On 22 July 1999 the investigation was terminated with the conclusion that there was no case to answer.

In connection with the above events the applicant filed numerous unsuccessful complaints against officers working on her case.

5.  Proceedings concerning the estate of the applicant's late mother

The applicant's mother, who died in 1979, co-owned some real property.

On 12 November 1993 the applicant requested that this property be determined as a “newly discovered inheritance” pursuant to Article 175x of the Code of Civil Procedure. The determination was entrusted to a notary public, who held a hearing on 22 November 1995.

In a letter of 11 July 1996 the notary informed the applicant that it was not clear from her submissions which precise plots in which cadastral areas comprised the estate. The only identifiable plots lay in the cadastral area of Revúca and, unless the applicant specified any other property, the scope of the proceedings would be limited to those plots.

The notary subsequently sought the assistance of the Land Registry Offices in Revúca, Liptovský Mikuláš, Vrbica, Ružomberok and Rožňava in a vain search for the other plots mentioned in the applicant's submissions.

The notary then requested a hearing for 21 June 1999. The summons stated that the estate comprised solely the land in Revúca as the claim to any other land had not been substantiated.

On 8 July 1999 the Bratislava IV District Court made a ruling defining the scope of the estate and determining that the applicant and her sister had each inherited 50 percent of it.

In a letter of 27 July 1999, in response to the applicant's complaint, the President of the District Court acknowledged that there had been delays in the proceedings partly imputable to the notary.

On 11 August 1999, on the applicant's complaint, the District Court issued a fresh decision in the case correcting typographical errors in the applicant's name.

On 1 October 1999, on the applicant's request, the District Court corrected a further clerical error concerning the definition of the share inherited by the applicant's sister.

6.  Registration of title to the applicant's flat

Since the 1970s the applicant had been living in a flat she was renting from a housing cooperative. On an unspecified date she concluded a contract with the cooperative to purchase the flat for a regulated price under newly enacted special legislation. She paid the purchase price on 23 October 1998.

Under the applicable legislation title to immovables passes on the approval of its registration in the land register by the relevant district office. On 13 May 1999 the applicant's purchase contract was submitted to the Bratislava IV District Office for registration.

On 1 May 2000 the applicant filed a civil action against the district office seeking a judicial order to register the contract immediately. She later withdrew the action and the proceedings were discontinued.

On 18 April 2000 the district office approved the registration and on 2 May 2000 the registration was actually carried out.

Pursuant to section 13 of the Income Tax Act (Law no. 366/1999 Coll.), which took effect on 1 January 2000, in the event of a potential sale of the flat the purchase price is subject to income tax unless the applicant has had her registered permanent residence in it and simultaneously has owned it for at least two years at the time of the sale. The applicable tax rate increases in accordance with the amount of the tax base.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complained under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that the responsible authorities had failed to take appropriate actions to protect her security of person in connection with the persecution and harassment she had been exposed to.

2.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that she had not had a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal within a reasonable time in that

(a)  the length of the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father; the libel action; the estate of her late mother; and the registration of her title to her flat was excessive. As to the libel action, the applicant also complained that the amount of just satisfaction awarded by the Constitutional Court was unacceptably low and had not been paid to her, to date.

(b)  she had no effective access to a court in respect of her petition to reopen the proceedings concerning the vacation of the flat. The applicant objected especially that she could not afford to pay for legal assistance and had been denied exemption from the obligation to pay the court fee and, further, that the length of the proceedings on her petition to reopen had been excessive.

(c)  in the proceedings concerning the vacation of the flat she had been arbitrarily excluded from the hearing before the Regional Court and thus could not plead her case orally or submit further documentary evidence.

(d)  in the proceedings concerning the vacation of the flat, the estate of her late father and the libel action the courts had arbitrarily found against her. The applicant also complained that in those proceedings she had not had an equal position to her opponents as she could not afford legal assistance and had been denied an exemption from the obligation to pay court fees.

(e)  the libel action and the estate of her late father had not been determined by an impartial tribunal, her challenges of bias being arbitrarily dismissed.

(f)  the responsible authorities had failed to handle her criminal complaints properly.

3.  The applicant further complained, under Article 8 of the Convention, that the persecution and harassment she had been exposed to constituted an interference with her right to respect for her private life, home and correspondence in respect of which the State had failed to afford her effective protection.

4.  Relying on Article 10 of the Convention the applicant also complained:

(a)  that her right to receive information had been violated in that she had been “accused” of having made an unauthorised audio recording of the hearing before the Regional Court of 26 February 1999 to which she was entitled under the existing Constitutional Court jurisprudence.

(b)  that she had been prosecuted for having expressed her views as regards the district office official.

5.  Under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 the applicant also complained of an interference with her property rights in that

(a)  due to the excessively long proceedings concerning the estate of her late father, the estate of her late mother and the registration of her title to her flat she had been prevented from enjoying her property peacefully;

(b)  as a result of the arbitrary outcome of the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father she had been deprived of her property; a part of the property belonging to the estate had been arbitrarily expropriated and she had been given no compensation for it.

(c)  the police were prevented from investigating the matter of the glued lock of her door as the damage was not such as to warrant criminal proceedings and that, accordingly, she could not have the damage compensated.

(d)  for two years after acquiring title to her flat she was for all practical purposes prevented from selling it by the income tax.

6.  The applicant finally complained, under Articles 13 and 14 of the Convention, that she had no effective remedy at her disposal and had been discriminated against on the basis of her sex, social status and political views in general in relation to the above complaints.

THE LAW

1.  The applicant complained that the authorities had failed to protect her security of person. She relied on Article 5 § 1 of the Convention, the relevant part of which reads as follows:

“1.  Everyone has the right to ... security of person...”

The Court reiterates that the expression “liberty and security of person” in Article 5 § 1 must be read as one single concept and that consequently, “security” should be understood in the context of “liberty”. The protection of “security” in its context is concerned with an arbitrary interference by a public authority with an individual's personal “liberty”. The Court reiterates that the primary concern of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention is protection from arbitrary deprivation of liberty. The notion of security of person has not been given an independent interpretation (see in this respect East African Asians v. the United Kingdom, nos. 5573/72 and 5670/72, Commission decision of 16 July 1976, Decisions and Reports 7, p. 8, and Kemal Güven v. Turkey (dec.), no. 31847/96, 30 May 2000).

The Court observes that in the present case there has been no interference with the applicant's liberty within the meaning of Article 5 of the Convention.

It follows that the complaint under this Article is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

2.  The applicant also complained of a violation of her right to a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal within a reasonable time pursuant to Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the relevant part of which provides that:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing within a reasonable time by an ... impartial tribunal...”

(a)  In so far as the applicant complained of the length of the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father, the libel action and the estate of her late mother, the Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

(b)  As regards the applicant's complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in relation to her petition to reopen the proceedings concerning the vacation of the flat, the Court reiterates the Convention institutions' case-law according to which the Convention does not guarantee a right to re-open proceedings in a particular case (see, among many other authorities, Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos and Others v. Spain, no. 24469/94, Commission decision of 2 December 1994, DR 79, p. 141) and Article 6 is not applicable to proceedings concerning an application for a retrial or to proceedings which determine whether the case in a civil matter is to be re-opened or not (X. v. Austria, no. 7761/77, Commission decision of 8 May 1978, DR 14, pp. 171 and 173).

It follows that the relevant part of the application is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

(c)  As to the applicant's complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in relation to the proceedings concerning the vacation of the flat, the Court considers that they have to be examined in the light of the proceedings as a whole (see Kuráková v. Slovakia (dec.), no. 37895/97, 1 February 2001).

The Court observes that, in these proceedings, the applicant and her sister challenged the judgment of the Regional Court of 10 November 1998 by appeals on points of law and that these appeals are still pending.

It follows that the relevant part of the application is premature and must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

(d)  In so far as the applicant complained that she had not had a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal and had been in an unequal position in the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father, the Court observes that she did not show that she had sought to challenge the inheritance decrees of 26 November 1996 and 27 February 2001 by means of an appeal. The Court further observes that the proceedings which were opened further to the applicant's submission of 21 March 2001 in respect of the remaining part of the estate are still pending.

It follows that the relevant part of the application must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

(e)  As regards the applicant's complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that she had not had a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal and had been in an unequal position in the libel action, the Court observes that the applicant's appeal on points of law of 16 February 2000 against the Regional Court's judgment of 10 December 1999 is still pending.

It follows that the relevant part of the application is premature and must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

(f)  As to the applicant's complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in relation to her criminal complaints, the Court notes that the proceedings in respect of them did not concern a criminal charge against the applicant and therefore Article 6 § 1 is not applicable under its “criminal head”.

The Court further reiterates that that Article 6 § 1, under its “civil head”, applies only to proceedings concerning the “determination” of a “civil right” which can be said, at least on arguable grounds, to be recognised under domestic law (see among other authorities Acquaviva v. France, judgment of 21 November 1995, Series A no. 333, p. 14, § 46).

The applicant has not shown that she has submitted any claim for damages caused by the alleged offences (see Perez v. France [GC], no. 47287/99, § 70, 12 February 2004).

It follows that this part of the application is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

(g)  In so far as the applicant complained of the length of the proceedings concerning registration of her title to her flat, the Court notes that these proceedings commenced on 13 May 1999 when the applicant's purchase contract was submitted to the Bratislava IV district office for registration. The registration was approved on 18 April 2000 and actually carried out on 2 May 2000. The proceedings thus lasted less than twelve months. The reasonableness of this period must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the criteria established by the Court's case-law (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).

Having regard to all the information in its possession (see D.K. v. Slovakia (dec.), no. 41262/98, 14 May 2002), the Court finds that the proceedings in question were not unreasonably long.

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

3.  The applicant further complained of a violation of her right to respect for her private life, her home and her correspondence under Article 8 of the Convention which, in so far as relevant, provides as follows:

“1.  Everyone has the right to respect for his private ... life, his home and his correspondence.

2.  There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

As regards the specific incident of 2 October 1998, the Court observes that an investigation into it was conducted by the Stupava police and that it was eventually stayed as, despite the efforts made, it was not possible to identify the perpetrator. On the applicant's complaints this decision was subsequently examined and upheld by the District Prosecutor and the Regional Prosecutor. The Court further observes that the remainder of the applicant's complaint under Article 8 of the Convention is rather general.

In so far as the relevant part of the application has been substantiated and falls within the Court's jurisdiction ratione personae, it has found no appearance of a failure on the part of the respondent State to discharge its positive obligations under Article 8 of the Convention in connection with the events complained of.

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

4.  The applicant also complained that her right to freedom of expression had been violated contrary to Article 10 of the Convention, the relevant part of which provides that:

“1.  Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom ... to receive ... information ... without interference by public authority ...

2.  The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

(a)  The Court observes that the applicant actually sought to make use of the audio recording which she had made of the hearing of 26 February 1999 before the Regional Court in support of her complaint concerning the treatment received from the judge presiding over the Regional Court Chamber in her case. Although such use of the recording had initially not been admitted, it was eventually listened to and the applicant's complaint accepted. In these circumstances and to the extent that the complaint has been substantiated, the Court finds no appearance of a violation of the applicant's right to receive information for the purposes of Article 10 of the Convention.

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

(b)  As to the applicant's complaint that she was persecuted for having expressed her views of the district office official, the Court notes that the investigation against the applicant was terminated on 22 July 1999 with the conclusion that there was no case to answer. The Court finds that in these circumstances the applicant cannot claim to be a “victim” within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention of a violation that she alleges.

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

5.  The applicant further complained of an interference with her property rights in violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, which provides:

“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 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.”

(a)  In so far as the applicant complained that she had been prevented from using her property peacefully during the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father and the estate of her late mother, the Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

(b)  As to the applicant's complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 concerning the outcome of the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father, the Court observes that it relates to the same factual background as her complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the lack of a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal which the Court has found inadmissible above for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies. The Court finds no reasons for reaching a different conclusion for the complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

(c)  As to the complaints of the expropriation of the property belonging to the estate of the applicant's late father and the lack of compensation in that respect, the Court notes at the outset that the applicant, who undoubtedly had a real legal interest in it, did not challenge the expropriation decision of 5 November 1999 by way of an administrative appeal. The Court further notes the findings of the Kysucké Nové Mesto police and the Čadca District Prosecutor according to which financial compensation for expropriated property the ownership of which was disputed or unknown had been deposited in a bank account of the Slovak Real Estate Fund. The applicant has not shown however that she sought to claim her share of the compensation from that Fund.

It follows that, in so far as substantiated, this part of the application must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

(d)  The Court notes that the applicant's criminal complaint to the Dúbravka police concerning the gluing of her door lock was examined under the minor offences procedure with no formal prosecution being brought. The Court further notes that the minimum limits under Article 89 of the Criminal Code on the value of pecuniary damage caused by an unlawful act may play a role in determining whether the act in issue constitutes a certain specific type of criminal offence or not. The fact that pecuniary damage in a specific case is below the defined minimum does not mean a priori that there can be no investigation into the matter. Having regard to all the information it its possession, the Court finds that there is no appearance of a violation of the applicant's rights protected under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in connection with the gluing of her lock.

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

(e)  In view of all the information in its possession and the above finding in respect of the complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of the length of the proceedings concerning the registration of the applicant's title to her flat, the Court finds that there is no appearance of a violation of the applicant's rights protected under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the length of these proceedings.

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

(f)  As to the applicant's complaint about the income tax payable on the potential sale of her flat, the Court reiterates that the second paragraph of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 provides that States may levy taxes or other contributions. The income tax complained of has a clear legal basis in the Income Tax Act. Having regard to all the information in its possession, the Court has found no appearance that the applicant's potential tax liability would lack a legitimate aim or that it would be disproportionate within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (see, mutatis mutandis, James and Others v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 21 January 1986, Series A, no. 98, p. 32, § 46 and Union Nationale (Tourism and Sea Resorts) Ltd and Others v. Cyprus (dec.), no. 39375/98, 4 May 2000).

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

6.  The applicant also complained of the lack of an effective remedy as regards the above alleged violations contrary to Article 13 of the Convention which stipulates that:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

(a)  In so far as the applicant complained of a lack of an effective remedy in relation to her complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of the length of the proceedings concerning the estate of her late father, the libel action and the estate of her late mother, the Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

(b)  The Court has found above that the applicant's remaining complaints are inadmissible. For similar reasons, in their respect, the applicant did not have an “arguable claim” and Article 13 therefore has no application to them (see Boyle and Rice v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 27 April 1988, Series A no. 131, p. 23, § 52).

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

7.  The applicant finally complained of discrimination in the enjoyment of the above rights and freedoms. She relied on Article 14 of the Convention, which reads:

“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in [the] Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”

To the extent that this part of the application has been substantiated the Court has found no appearance of a violation of the applicant's right not to be discriminated against within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention (see, among many other authorities, Gaygusuz v. Austria, no. 17371/90, § 36, ECHR 1996-IV, and Thlimennos v. Greece [GC], no. 25735/94, § 44, ECHR 2000-IV).

It follows that this part of 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

Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant's complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the length of the proceedings relating to the estate of her late father, the libel action and the estate of her late mother; the complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that during the proceedings concerning the estates of her late father and mother the applicant has been prevented from enjoying her possessions peacefully; and the complaint under Article 13 of the Convention that she has no effective remedy at her disposal in respect of the complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of the length of the above three sets of proceedings;

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

Michael O'Boyle Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

ŠIDLOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION


ŠIDLOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION