FOURTH SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 67199/01 
by Alžbeta CSEPYOVÁ 
against Slovakia

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 14 May 2002 as a Chamber composed of

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mr M. Pellonpää
 Mr A. Pastor Ridruejo
 Mr J. Makarczyk
 Mrs V. Strážnická
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr S. Pavlovschi, judges
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 12 March 2001,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Alžbeta Csepyová, is a Slovakian national, born in 1922, and living in Komárno. She is represented before the Court by Mrs Alíz Bödök, a lawyer practising in Komárno.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

Several members of the applicant’s family jointly owned an agricultural plot in Komárno. This property was registered on the certificates of ownership (list vlastníctva) nos. 7514 and 7514 of the Land Register (kataster nehnuteľností) maintained by the Komárno Land Register Office (then Katastrálny úrad, now Okresný úrad, odbor katastra nehnuteľností). At some unspecified time, the applicant obtained a 1/3 share in the joint ownership of this plot.

In 1946, a 1/2 share in the joint ownership belonging to the applicant’s grandmother was formally confiscated. In an administrative decision, taken without proper verification of the factual and legal situation, the ownership of the entire plot was subsequently allocated to third parties (prídeloví vlastníci – “the assigned owners”). This allocation was, however, not officially recorded in the Land Register.

In 1950, a 1/6 share in the joint ownership belonging to the applicant’s uncle was also formally confiscated.

The applicant’s share was never formally confiscated.

The assigned owners never used the plot. As from the early 1950s, the plot was in fact used by an agricultural co-operative.

The applicant’s grandmother and uncle died before the events complained of.

On 22 November 1991, following the entry into force on 24 June 1991 of the Land Ownership Act no. 229/1991 Coll. (Zákon o úprave vlastníckych vzťahov k pôde a inému poľnohospodárskemu majetku – “the Act 229/91”), the applicant lodged a claim under this Act for restitution of the 1/2 share that had been confiscated from her late grandmother (“the first restitution claim”).

On 31 January 1992 the applicant lodged a claim for restitution of the 1/6 share that had been confiscated from her late uncle (“the second restitution claim”). She submitted further information in support of her second claim on 11 August and 16 September 1992.

Proceedings concerning the first restitution claim

On 23 March 1992, the applicant concluded a restitution agreement (dohoda o vydaní) with the agricultural co-operative that was using the plot on the modalities of transfer of the 1/2 share that had been confiscated from her late grandmother.

On 14 May 1992, in accordance with Act 229/91, the Komárno Land Office (then Pozemkový úrad, now Okresný úrad, odbor pozemkový, poľnohospodárstva a lesného hospodárstva) approved the restitution agreement. When this approval became final on 16 June 1992, the applicant acquired the 1/2 share in the joint ownership agreed, and the agricultural  
co-operative became her tenant. The applicant subsequently informed the co-operative that she wished to terminate the lease. On 30 September 1993, upon expiry of the statutory period of notice, the lease was terminated.

In late 1993, the co-operative concluded an agreement with the applicant on the boundaries of the land to be attributed to her, i.e. a total of 846,422 m2 corresponding to the 1/2 share in the joint co-ownership of the plot that had belonged to the applicant’s late grandmother plus the 1/3 share already owned by the applicant in her own name previously. This part of the plot has been in the applicant’s use ever since.

On 3 November 1994, in accordance with Section 15 § 2 of the Act on Land Consolidation no. 330/1991 Coll. (Zákon o pozemkových úpravách, usporiadaní pozemkového vlastníctva, pozemkových úradoch, pozemkovom fonde a o pozemkových spoločenstvách – “the Act 330/91”) and on the basis of the restitution agreement of 23 March 1992, the Land Office ordered the accelerated consolidation of the plot. Pursuant to Section 15 § 2 of the Act 330/91, this accelerated land consolidation was ordered for an interim period, namely, until the completion of the ongoing general land consolidation proceedings in the area concerned or, alternatively, until the co-operative was dissolved without a legal successor, whichever was the earlier.

On 1 June 1995 the co-operative requested the Land Office to re-open the proceedings concerning the applicant’s first restitution claim. In support of this request, it argued that third persons (heirs of the assigned owners) had raised ownership claims to the plot. On 12 June 1995 the Land Office decided to re-open the restitution proceedings.

The applicant’s appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture against the Land Office’s decision was rejected on 30 November 1995. On the same day, the co-operative rescinded the restitution agreement of 23 March 1992.

On 5 March 1996 the applicant called upon the Land Office to carry on with the re-opened proceedings and to determine her first restitution claim in accordance with Section 9 § 4 of the Act 229/91.

The Land Office subsequently joined the proceedings concerning the applicant’s first and second restitution claims (see below under “Joined Proceedings”).

Proceedings concerning the second restitution claim

On 15 September 1992, the applicant and the co-operative concluded a restitution agreement in respect of the 1/6 share that had been confiscated from her late uncle.

On 19 October 1992, in accordance with the Act 229/91, the Land Office approved the restitution agreement. However, following an appeal filed by a third person (an heir of one of the assigned owners) claiming ownership of the plot, the Ministry of Agriculture quashed the approval of the Land Office in a decision of 21 December 1993.

On 6 December 1995 the co-operative rescinded the restitution agreement of 15 September 1992.

The Land Office, being obliged to take a new decision, joined the proceedings concerning the applicant’s second restitution claim to the proceedings concerning her first claim.

Joined proceedings

On 25 November 1996 the Land Office delivered a decision withholding approval of the restitution agreements of 23 March 1992 (first restitution claim) and 15 September 1992 (second restitution claim).

On 30 November 1998 the Nitra Regional Court (Krajský súd) rejected the applicant’s administrative law appeal against the decision of 25 November 1996 and upheld this decision. As a result, the Land Office became obliged, by virtue of Section 9 § 4 of the Act 229/91, to determine ex officio the applicant’s two restitution claims.

The applicant requested the Land Office repeatedly, inter alia by letters of 19 April, 3 May, 18 May and 11 December 1999, to decide on her two restitution claims speedily.

On 15 August 2000 the Land Office decided under the Act 330/91 to open land consolidation proceedings in respect of the plot. It considered that, since third parties (heirs of the assigned owners) had submitted competing ownership claims to the plot, a determination of these claims by the Land Office was a prerequisite for a determination of the question whether any part of the ownership of the plot could be restored to the applicant and, if so, which part.

On 8 September 2000, in accordance with Section 29 § 1 of the Administrative Proceedings Act (Správny poriadok), the Land Office decided to stay the proceedings on the applicant’s two restitution claims pending the outcome of the consolidation proceedings. In accordance with Section 51 of the Administrative Proceedings Act, this decision was served on the applicant on 25 September 2000. No appeal lies against it.

On 2 January 2001, upon an appeal lodged by the applicant, the Nitra Regional Office (Krajský úrad) quashed the Land Office’s decision of 15 August 2000 and sent the case file back to the Land Office for reconsideration. It appears that, to date, no final decision reopening the land consolidation proceedings has been taken.

On 13 February 2001 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Head of the Land Office (Prednosta okresného úradu) about the delays in the administrative proceedings on her two restitution claims. She demanded that the proceedings be resumed and her claims determined.

On 18 September 2001 the Land Office recognised the applicant’s second restitution claim. This decision became final on 26 October 2001.

The restitution proceedings on her first restitution claim are currently still pending.

Unrelated proceedings before the Land Office on restitution claims to another plot of land located in Iža

In a different case, unrelated to the present, concerning ownership of a plot of land located in Iža claims were lodged by, on the one hand, claimants deriving their claims from the original owners before the land was confiscated in the 1950s and, on the other, claimants deriving their claims from the assigned owners to whom the land had been allocated after confiscation. In that case, title to the land in question has not been registered in the Land Register in favour of either the assigned owners or the claimants deriving their claims from the assigned owners.

However, in that case, the Land Office, the claimants deriving their claims from the original owners, the claimants deriving their claims from the assigned owners and the Slovak Real Estate Fund entered into an arrangement of 23 May 1997. Under this arrangement, formally denoted as an “agreement”, the parties established a procedure for settling the competing ownership claims made by the successors of the original and the assigned owners respectively. The parties also agreed that, in order to confirm their titles formally, the claimants deriving their claims from the assigned owners would seek a notarial certification (osvedčenie) that they had acquired title by means of prescription.

B.  Relevant domestic law

The Administrative Proceedings Act (no 71/1967 Coll.)

Section 29 § 1 in conjunction with Section 40 of the Administrative Proceedings Act provides that an administrative authority shall stay proceedings before it when other proceedings on a preliminary issue are pending.

In cases where administrative proceedings are re-opened, Section 64 § 4 of the Administrative Proceedings Act prescribes that the original substantive decision shall remain in force until a new decision based on the new facts and circumstances is delivered.

The Land Ownership Act (the Act 229/91)

Under the Land Ownership Act, which entered into force on 24 June 1991, claims can be lodged for the restitution of agricultural land and certain other agricultural assets (immovable as well as movable) which were confiscated between 25 February 1948 and 1 January 1990.

Under Section 9 § 1 of this Act, a claimant shall lodge a restitution claim with the competent Land Office and, at the same time, invite the person holding the assets at issue to restore them to him/her. If the legal or natural person holding the assets does not contest the restitution claim, the holder is required to conclude, within sixty days, a restitution agreement with the claimant. Such an agreement must be approved by the Land Office in administrative proceedings.

Where no such agreement has been concluded, the Land Office shall determine the claim in administrative proceedings (Section 9 § 4).

According to Section 11 § 1 (a) of the Act 229/91, land owned or lawfully used by natural persons is not eligible for restoration. In such cases, other land of comparable size and quality owned by the State is to be transferred into the ownership of the persons entitled to restitution (Section 11 § 2 of the Act 229/91).

Final decisions of Land Offices on restitution under the Act 229/91 may be subject to an administrative-law appeal to a general civil court in accordance with provisions of Part 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The Act on Land Consolidation (the Act 330/91)

Under the Act on Land Consolidation, which entered into force on 19 August 1991, the Land Office may – either of its own motion or acting on a request of land owners or land users – conduct administrative proceedings aimed at removing discrepancies in the arrangement of plots and at resolving questions of ownership and possession/occupancy in areas where such discrepancies exist. In these proceedings, Land Offices are competent, among other things, to rearrange plots (by joining, dividing etc.) and to determine any issues of ownership arising from such rearrangements.

According to Section 15 § 2, the Land Office shall, upon motion of owners or other persons with a title to the land concerned, order the accelerated consolidation of ownership and possession relations in a particular area. This consolidation shall be temporary until the general land consolidation in the area is completed, or until the legal entity possessing the land in question is dissolved with no legal successor, whichever is the sooner.

Section 16 § 2 in conjunction with Section 2 (a) of the Act 330/91 provides that if a person claims in pending consolidation proceedings to have ownership rights but is unable to substantiate this claim by any documents or other evidence, the Land Office shall refer such person to the general civil court for the establishment of his/her alleged ownership rights.

Pursuant to Section 16 § 7 of the Act 330/91, disputes about ownership rights in respect of immovables shall be determined by general civil courts.

Final decisions of Land Offices in land-consolidation proceedings under the Act 330/91 may be subject to an administrative-law appeal to a general civil court in accordance with the provisions of Part 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Code of Civil Procedure (no. 99/1963 Coll., as amended)

According to Part 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the general civil courts are competent to review the lawfulness of certain decisions delivered by administrative authorities.

Under the amendment no. 501/2001 Coll., as from 1 January 2002, the general civil courts are competent to review also the official conduct of bodies of public administration.

By virtue of Article 244 § 3 the term “official conduct” also includes inactivity of the administrative authority concerned.

According to Section 248 § 2 (e) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the general civil courts cannot review any decisions by administrative authorities which are of a preliminary and procedural nature.

Amendment no. 90/2001 to the Constitution of the Slovak Republic

On 1 January 2002 an amendment to the Constitution of the Slovak Republic entered into force.

The amended Article 127 § 1 lays down that the Constitutional Court shall decide on complaints of individuals claiming a violation of their fundamental rights or freedoms or human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by an international treaty which had been ratified by the Slovak Republic and promulgated in accordance with law, unless it is provided by law that another court is competent in the matter.

According to the amended Article 127 § 2, if the Constitutional Court accepts the complaint, it shall hold in its decision that the rights or freedoms referred to in the preceding paragraph of that article were violated by a valid decision, measure or by other action, and it shall annul the decision, measure or other action in question. If the violation ensues from inactivity, the Constitutional Court may order the body which committed such a violation to act in the matter.

Under the amended Article 127 § 3, the Constitutional Court may also award appropriate financial compensation to the victim.

COMPLAINTS

1. Relying on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the applicant complains that she is deprived of her right of access to a court in that, pursuant to Section 248 § 2 (e) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the decision of 8 September 2000 is excluded from judicial review.

2. She further complains that the decision of 8 September 2000 and its effect are contrary to Slovakian law, in particular to Section 16 §§ 2 and 7 of the Act 330/91, and consequently cannot be regarded as “fair” within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

3. The applicant also complains that the Land Office cannot be regarded as an independent and impartial tribunal within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

4. The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the proceedings on her two restitution claims has exceeded a “reasonable time”.

5. The applicant complains under Article 13 of the Convention that she had no legal remedy against the decision taken on 8 September 2000 by the Land Office.

6. The applicant further complains that the decision of the Land Office of 8 September 2000 to stay the proceedings on her restitution claims, thus giving priority to the determination of the claims raised by the heirs of the assigned owners of the plot, violates her rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. She argues that this decision has no legal basis in Slovakian law and that, should the heirs’ claims be accepted, she will no longer be entitled, pursuant to Section 11 (1) a) of the Act 229/91, to the physical restoration of the plot but will only be entitled to compensatory measures under Section 11 (2) of the Act 229/91. Given these direct material consequences, she submits that the decision of 8 September 2000 cannot be regarded as a mere procedural decision. The applicant further complains that, pending a final outcome of the restitution proceedings, she is effectively prevented from alienating her property, which had been restored to her under the agreement with the co-operative of late 1993, following approval on 14 May 1992 by the Land Office of the restitution agreement of 23 March 1992. In support of this complaint, the applicant submits that the decision of the Land Office of 14 May 1992 accepting her first restitution claim is still in force and that, by virtue of Section 64 § 4 of the Administrative Proceedings Act, it cannot lose its effect until the Land Office delivers a new substantive decision in the re-opened proceedings.

7. Invoking Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the applicant complains that the Land Office discriminated against her in that it gave preferential treatment to the heirs of the assigned owners. The applicant submits that, pursuant to Section 9 § 4 of the Act 229/91, the Land Office was by law obliged to determine her restitution claims. She further maintains that, according to Section 16 § 7 of the Act 330/91, the Land Office was not competent to determine the assigned owners’ claims and that it should have referred them, by virtue of Section 16 § 2 in conjunction with Section 2 (a) of this Act, to general courts with a statement of their claims. Instead of that, as the applicant argues, the Land Office stayed the proceedings on her restitution claims and unlawfully decided to deal first with the assigned owners’ claims in the land consolidation proceedings.

8. The applicant finally complains under Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that she was discriminated against by the Land Office as compared to the original owners of the plot in Iža. The applicant considers her situation comparable to theirs. In that other case, the Land Office accepted an agreement in which all parties involved agreed amicably to a procedure for settlement of all competing ownership claims. The applicant submits that, in her case, the Land Office rejected such a solution and decided, to the applicant’s disadvantage, to give priority to the determination of the assigned owners’ claims. The applicant further submits that unlike in the Iža case, in her case the Land Office does not insist that the assigned owners, who according to the applicant are in a situation comparable to that of the assigned owners in Iža, formally confirm their titles by a notarial certification of prescription in their favour.

THE LAW

1. The applicant complains that her right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal as guaranteed by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention was violated as a result of the Komárno Land Office’s decision of 8 September 2000. Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, insofar as it is relevant to the present case, provides as follows:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ...”

The Court considers that the question whether proceedings before national authorities satisfy the requirements of a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal can in principle only be determined by examining the proceedings as a whole, that is to say only once they have been concluded (cf. No. 37895/97, Kuráková v. the Slovak Republic, Dec. 1.2.2001, unpublished).

The decision complained of by the applicant was of a procedural and interim nature, in that the Land Office thereby adjourned its examination of the applicant’s restitution case under the Act 229/91, without prejudging the merits thereof, pending its decision on a preliminary issue considered under the Act 330/91, namely the removal of discrepancies in the ownership and possession of the plot in light of the ownership claims raised by the heirs of the assigned owners. The Court therefore finds that the decision complained of did not, as such, involve a “determination” of the applicant’s civil rights and obligations, from which it follows that Article 6 § 1 of the Convention does not apply to it. Consequently, the Court finds that the applicant’s complaint in respect of the decision of 8 September 2000 must be rejected as incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention, within the meaning of Article 35 § 3.

2. To the extent that the applicant’s complaints under Article 6 § 1 are to be understood as including a complaint that she was deprived of fair proceedings on her restitution claims, the Court notes that the proceedings concerning the applicant’s first restitution claim have not yet been concluded and that therefore this part of the application must be rejected as premature, in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

3. As regards the applicant’s second restitution claim, the Court notes that this claim was accepted by the Land Office on 18 September 2001, some six months after the present application was lodged. The applicant therefore can no longer be considered a victim within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention. 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.

4. The applicant further complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the proceedings concerning her two restitution claims has exceeded a “reasonable time”.

The Court notes that an amendment to the Constitution of the Slovak Republic entered into force as from 1 January 2002 (see above). Under the amended Article 127 the Constitutional Court shall decide on complaints of individuals claiming a violation of their fundamental rights or freedoms or human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by an international treaty which has been ratified by the Slovak Republic and promulgated in accordance with law, unless it is provided by law that another court is competent in the matter. The Constitutional Court may further issue an order to act to the inactive authority and it may also award just financial satisfaction to the victim.

The Court further notes that an amendment to Part 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure came into force with effect as from 1 January 2002. According to the amended Section 244 of this Code, the general courts shall examine the official conduct of bodies of public administration, the term “official conduct” also including inactivity of the authority concerned.

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 § 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

5. The applicant complains under Article 13 of the Convention that she had no legal remedy against the decision taken on 8 September 2000 by the Land Office. This provision reads:

“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.”

Noting that Article 13 of the Convention does not, as such, guarantee a right to appeal or to a second level of jurisdiction (cf. No. 28863/95, Kopczynski v. Poland, Dec. 1.7.1998, unpublished), the Court considers that this part of the application must be rejected as manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

6. The applicant further complains under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the decision of the Land Office of 8 September 2000 to stay the proceedings concerning her restitution claims, thus giving priority to the determination of the claims raised by the heirs of the assigned owners of the plot, is contrary to her rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in that, firstly, it will inevitably lead to an impossibility to have the plot physically restored to her and, secondly, pending a final outcome of the restitution proceedings, she is effectively prevented from alienating her property.

Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 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.”

7. The Court notes that, invoking Article 1 of Protocol No. 1., the applicant in fact raises two complaints which, in the Court’s view, need to be considered separately.

The first complaint, that the decision of 8 September 2000 to stay the proceedings inevitably leads to the impossibility to have the plot physically restored to the applicant has, in the Court’s view, the same factual background as the applicant’s complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about a violation of her right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. The Court has found that the decision of 8 September 2000 staying the proceedings pending the outcome of a land consolidation project was of a procedural and interim nature and did not involve a determination of the applicant’s civil rights and obligations. As regards Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, it remains to be seen what effect the land consolidation project will have on the property in question. It follows that this complaint is also premature and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

8. As regards the second complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the applicant is prevented from alienating her property pending the final outcome of the restitution proceedings, the Court considers it necessary to draw a distinction between the applicant’s first restitution claim and her second restitution claim.

9. To the extent that this complaint concerns her first restitution claim, the Court notes that it was in fact allowed by the Land Office on 14 May 1992. In the re-opened restitution proceedings the Land Office has so far given no new substantive decision on this claim and thus, by virtue of Section of 64 § 3 of the Administrative Procedure Act, the original decision of 14 May 1992 is still formally in place.

In these circumstances, 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 § 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

10. Insofar as the applicant’s complaint that she is prevented from alienating her property while the respective proceedings are pending concerns the applicant’s second restitution claim, which has been allowed by a final decision of the Land Office of 18 September 2001, the Court notes that the applicant can no longer claim the status of “victim” of a violation. It follows that this complaint is also manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

11. Invoking Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the applicant complains that the Land Office discriminated against her in that it gave preferential treatment to the heirs of the assigned owners.

Article 14 of the Convention provides as follows:

“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.”

The applicant submits that the determination of the ownership claims of these heirs within the land consolidation proceedings was unlawfully given priority over the determination of her restitution claims.

Although the applicant formally invokes Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the Court notes that this complaint, in its substance, is to be construed rather as a complaint of a violation of the “equality of arms” principle. The Court further reiterates that this principle is an integral component of the broader concept of a “fair trial” guaranteed by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. The admissibility of the complaint under Article 6 taken alone, however, has already been examined by the Court. The Court finds that in the particular circumstances the applicant’s complaint under Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention does not give rise to any separate issue. Consequently it too is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4.

12. The applicant further complains under Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that she was discriminated against by the Land Office in comparison with other original owners of a plot in Iža.

The Court recalls that the right under Article 14 not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed under the Convention is violated when States treat differently persons in analogous situations without providing an objective and reasonable justification, or when States without an objective and reasonable justification fail to treat differently persons whose situations are significantly different (cf. Thlimmenos v. Greece [GC], no. 34369/97, ECHR 2000-IV, § 44).

The Court notes that in the case of the land in Iža the successors of the assigned owners and those of the original owners were united in their opinions to the extent that they were able to enter into the agreement of 23 May 1997, whereas in the applicant’s case no such unity of opinions appears to exist.

In light of the Thlimmenos v. Greece judgment cited above, the Court therefore concludes that the applicant’s situation is not in fact relevantly similar to the situation of the successors of the original owners of the land in Iža. It follows that this complaint 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 concerning the length of the administrative proceedings on the applicant’s first restitution claim and on her second restitution claim as well as the complaint that, pending a final outcome of the re-opened proceedings on the applicant’s first restitution claim, she is effectively prevented from alienating her property;

Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Michael O’Boyle Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

CSEPYOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION


CSEPYOVÁ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION