AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 58/02
by Mustafa TANRIGÜNVERDİ and Others
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 3 July 2006 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr P. Lorenzen, President,
Mrs S. Botoucharova,
Mr R. Türmen,
Mr K. Jungwiert,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska,
Mr R. Maruste, judges,
and Mrs C. Westerdiek, Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 17 October 2001,
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 observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicants,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Mr Mustafa Tanrıgünverdi, Mr Mehmet Tanrıgünverdi, Ms Gülden Acır, Ms Nejla Elmasiğne, Ms Zeynep Özışık, Mr Yücel Tanrıgünverdi, Mr Veli Tanrıgünverdi, Ms Yüksel Doğrugider, Ms Anıl Acır and Mr Yunus Enver Tanrıgünverdi, are Turkish nationals who were born in 1922 (1341 according to the former Muslim calendar, as submitted by the applicant), 1932, 1938, 1945, 1948, 1947, 1964, 1968, 1973 and 1978 respectively, and live in Tarsus.
They are represented before the Court by Mr A. Akıllıoğlu, a lawyer practising in Ankara.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 7 March 1996 the Tarsus Municipality issued an order to expropriate a plot of land belonging to the applicants. A committee of experts assessed the value of the plot of land and the relevant amount was paid to the applicants on 11 December 1997.
Following the applicants’ request for additional compensation, the Tarsus Civil Court of first instance ordered an expert opinion to be prepared to assess the value of the plot. As the parties mutually objected to the opinion, the court ordered a second opinion to be drawn up by a separate committee of experts.
On 13 October 1998, seeing that the two assessments were parallel, the court awarded the applicants a corresponding amount of additional compensation plus interest at the statutory rate.
However, on 25 October 1999 the Court of Cassation quashed the judgment and remitted the case back to the first-instance court for further examination.
Having obtained a revised expert opinion, the Tarsus Civil Court issued a new judgment on 9 May 2000. It awarded the applicants an additional compensation of 896,224,000 Turkish liras (TRL) plus interest at the statutory rate.
On 30 October 2000 the Court of Cassation upheld this subsequent judgment. On 9 April 2001 the Court of Cassation rejected a request for rectification and thereby concluded the court proceedings.
On 18 April 2001 the Tarsus Municipality paid the applicants the sum of TRL 2,627,945,310, interest included.
1. The applicants complained that the additional compensation, which they had obtained in April 2001, had fallen in value, since the default interest had not kept pace with the high rate of inflation in Turkey. They relied on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, which reads insofar as relevant as follows:
“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 Government asked the Court to dismiss this complaint as inadmissible for being manifestly ill-founded. They relied on the Court’s finding in the Arabacı v. Turkey case ((dec.), no. 65714/01, 7 March 2002), in which the Court had considered that a minor difference (less than 5%) between the amount paid to the applicant and the amount that the Court considered as appropriate compensation could be considered justified as having resulted from different methods of calculation used by the Court and the national authorities.
The Government further pointed to the Court’s finding in the Arabacı decision that in those circumstances, the total amount of money paid to the applicants was satisfactory even if it did not seem to constitute a full compensation.
Using the same method of calculation it developed in the Akkuş judgment (cited above, p. 1311, §§ 35-36 and 39), the Court finds the applicants would be considered to have been fully compensated if they were to be paid TRL 2,612,723,010.15.
The applicants contended that the total amount of additional compensation they received was TRL 2,292,679,460. However, the Government submitted copies of two receipts showing that the amount eventually paid added up to TRL 2,627,945,310.
In their response to the Government’s observations, the applicants did not directly rebut that submission but contented themselves with reiterating their earlier submission as to the amount they received.
As the applicants failed to substantiate their allegation as to that amount, the Court takes as accurate the amount submitted by the Government, i.e., TRL 2,627,945,310.
Thus, the Court finds that the applicants did not suffer any loss due to the delay in question and cannot be considered as victims of a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
It follows that this part of the application must be rejected under Articles 34 and 35 § 4 of the Convention.
2. According to the applicants, the length of the domestic proceedings was in breach of the “reasonable time” requirement laid down in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which, in so far as relevant, 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 ...”
The Court recalls that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the particular circumstances of the case and having regard to the criteria laid down in the established case-law, in particular the complexity of the case and the conduct of the applicant and of the relevant authorities (see Yağcı and Sargın v. Turkey, judgment of 8 June 1995, Series A no. 319-A, p. 20, § 59). Furthermore, the Convention organs also consider it appropriate to make an overall assessment of the length of proceedings in some cases (see e.g. Cifola v. Italy, judgment of 27 February 1992, Series A no. 231-A, p. 9, § 14).
The Court observes that the domestic proceedings in question started on 22 January 1998, when the applicants applied to the Tarsus Civil Court of first instance for additional compensation.
On 9 April 2001 the Court of Cassation rejected a request for rectification and thereby concluded the court proceedings. On 18 April 2001 the administration paid the additional compensation.
Overall, the domestic proceedings lasted for approximately three years and three months. In the light of the case-law of the Convention organs, the duration of the proceedings does not seem prima facie unduly long. The said period involved five examinations at two judicial instances, as well as the preparation of two initial expert opinions by separate committees of experts and a third one upon the parties’ mutual objection to the initial opinions.
Taking into account the factual complexity that the expropriated property’s value assessment presented, as well as the fact that the case passed through five examinations by two instances, and that no periods of inactivity were attributed to the State authorities, the Court considers that the length of the proceedings does not disclose any appearance of a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention (see, among several authorities, Mariniello v. Italy (dec.), no. 36012/97, 28 September 1999; Çakıroğlu v. Turkey (dec.), no. 52875/99, 5 December 2000).
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 discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention;
Declares the application inadmissible.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen
TANRIGÜNVERDİ AND OTHERS v. TURKEY DECISION
TANRIGÜNVERDİ AND OTHERS v. TURKEY DECISION