Application no. 65557/01
by Štefánia HELEYOVÁ
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 1 March 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Sir Nicolas Bratza, President,
Mr G. Bonello,
Mr K. Traja,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Ms L. Mijović,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr M. O'Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 December 2000;
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 formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case;
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Štefánia Heleyová, is a Slovakian national, who was born in 1934 and lives in Žilina. She was represented before the Court by Ms Z. Kupcová, a lawyer practising in Bratislava.
The respondent Government were represented by Mr P. Kresák, their Agent.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 11 March 1996 the Žilina District Court started inheritance proceedings concerning the estate of the applicant's late mother.
On 11 October 2000 the Constitutional Court found a violation of the applicant's right to a hearing without unjustified delay. The decision stated that the length of the proceedings was principally due to the fact that neither the District Court nor the Notary Public concerned had proceeded in an appropriate manner with a view to establishing the relevant facts. The District Court had remained entirely inactive between 31 July 1996 and 1 April 1997 and also between 3 December 1999 and 19 June 2000. The Notary Public had taken nine months to formally establish that a house, a valuation of which she had requested, had been destroyed. The Constitutional Court found that the length of the proceedings was not due to the complexity of the case or to the applicant's conduct.
On 9 November 2000 the Žilina District Court appointed an expert and instructed him to submit, within 30 days, an opinion on the value of a part of the property in question. The expert opinion was submitted on 13 February 2001.
Hearings before the Notary Public were held on 12 March 2001 and on 11 April 2001.
By a decision delivered on 27 April 2001 the Žilina District Court determined the estate and decided on its distribution. The decision became final and enforceable on 5 June 2001.
On 28 January 2002 the applicant requested that the District Court should rectify a clerical error in the decision of 27 April 2001. The District Court rectified the error by a decision given on 31 May 2002. That decision became final and enforceable on 10 July 2002.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings. She also alleged a violation of Article 13 of the Convention in that she had no effective remedy at her disposal in this respect.
On 26 January 2005 the Court received the following declaration signed by the Government's Agent:
“I, Peter Kresák, Agent of the Government of the Slovak Republic, declare that the Government of the Slovak Republic offer to pay 3,400 (three thousand four hundred) euros to Štefánia Heleyová with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into Slovakian korunas at the rate applicable on the date of payment and free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
On 4 February 2005 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant's representative:
“I, Štefánia Heleyová, note that the Government of the Slovak Republic are prepared to pay me the sum of 3,400 (three thousand four hundred) euros with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into Slovakian korunas at the rate applicable on the date of payment free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. From the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
I accept the proposal and waive any further claims against Slovakia in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. I declare that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should no longer apply to the case and it should be struck out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Michael O'Boyle Nicolas
HELEYOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION
HELEYOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION