Application no. 72210/01
by Milan NOHAJ
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 20 September 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 12 July 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 formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Milan Nohaj, is a Slovakian national who was born in 1960 and lives in Košice. The respondent Government were represented by their Agent, Ms A. Poláčková.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. Proceedings concerning the boundary of real estates
On 20 October 1998 the applicant requested the Prešov District Office to determine the border between his and his neighbour’s property.
On 12 March 1999 the District Office invited the applicant to pay the administration fee. The applicant paid the sum on 16 March 1999.
On 8 April 1999 the District Office stayed the proceedings for 30 days. At the court’s request, the applicant submitted further information on 20 April 1999.
On 17 June 1999 an inspection of the site took place. The applicant submitted comments in this respect on 23 July 1999.
On 25 October 1999 the District Office transferred the case to the Prešov District Court as the case fell within the latter’s jurisdiction.
The District Court received the applicant’s action on 8 November 1999. It asked the defendant for comments on 7 March 2000. The defendant replied on 17 March 2000.
The applicant failed to appear at the first hearing scheduled for 3 July 2000. The District Court imposed a procedural fine on him for this reason. The applicant attended the second hearing on 2 August 2000. The case was adjourned as the court considered it necessary to obtain an expert opinion.
On 4 August 2000 the applicant extended his action in that he claimed, inter alia, a sum of money in compensation for the use of his land by the defendants.
On 2 March 2001 the District Court appointed an expert and invited him to submit an opinion within three months.
The case file was examined by the Constitutional Court between 27 April and 9 July 2001. It was returned to the expert on 13 July 2001. The expert opinion was submitted to the District Court on 19 December 2001. The parties submitted their observations on it on 16 and 30 January 2002 respectively.
On 29 April 2002 the District Court delivered a judgment in which it determined the boundaries of the properties and ordered the defendant to remove a fence which had been incorrectly fixed on the applicant’s land. It further decided to deal in a separate set of proceedings with the applicant’s claim that the defendants should restore unjustified profits which they had obtained as a result of use of the applicant’s land and that they should pay damages to him. The judgment became final on 12 July 2002.
On 14 January 2003 the applicant informed the court of his readiness to settle the case concerning the outstanding claims. On 4 February 2003 the defendants excluded the possibility of reaching a settlement with the applicant.
Hearings were scheduled for 15 January and 26 February 2003. On 4 February 2003, the applicant paid the court fee at the court’s request of 19 November 2002.
The District Court held hearings on 23 April and 8 September 2003. On 27 May 2003 it held an inspection of the site.
On 2 October 2003 an expert was appointed. The file was sent to the expert on 3 November 2003. After he had received further information, the expert submitted his opinion on 23 January 2004. It was sent to the parties on 1 March 2004. The parties commented on it on 15 and 19 March 2004 respectively.
On 21 April 2004 the District Court dismissed the claims. On 28 June 2004 the applicant appealed.
On 13 October 2004 the Prešov Regional Court partly modified the first instance judgment in that it ordered the defendants to pay a sum to the applicant. The judgment became final on 28 November 2004.
2. Proceedings before the Constitutional Court
On 29 November 1999 the applicant filed a petition under Article 130(3) of the Constitution in which he complained about unjustified delays in the proceedings before the Prešov District Office.
On 1 March 2001 the Constitutional Court found that the District Office had violated the applicant’s right to a hearing without unjustified delay. It held, in particular, that the District Office should have transferred the applicant’s claim to the competent court immediately after its receipt.
On 26 February 2001 the applicant filed a petition in which he complained about delays in the proceedings before the Prešov District Court.
On 14 June 2001 the Constitutional Court found that the Prešov District Court had violated the applicant’s right under Article 48(2) of the Constitution in that, in particular, it had remained inactive for 7 months between 2 August 2000 and 2 March 2001.
On 15 November 2002 the applicant filed a complaint under Article 127 of the Constitution about delays in the subsequent proceedings before the Prešov District Court.
On 16 April 2003 the Constitutional Court found no violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention as a result of the length of the District Court proceedings during the period subsequent to its above finding of 14 June 2001. In its finding the Constitutional Court pointed out that it had only examined the proceedings concerning damages and unjustified profits, as a final decision determining the boundaries had existed at the moment of introduction of the applicant’s constitutional complaint on 15 November 2002. The Constitutional Court held that the applicant had contributed to the length of the proceedings in that he had modified his claims several times and that he had only paid the court fee after a certain delay. With the exception of the period between 12 July 2002 and 18 November 2002, it found no particular delays in the proceedings imputable to the District Court.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that both the proceedings concerning his above claims and the proceedings before the Constitutional Court concerning his petition of 29 November 1999 had lasted an unreasonably long time.
On 22 June 2005 the Court received the following declaration signed by the Agent of the Government:
“I, Alena Poláčková, Agent of the Government of the Slovak Republic before the European Court of Human Rights, declare that the Government of the Slovak Republic offer to pay 120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand) Slovakian korunas to Mr Milan Nohaj 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 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 13 June 2005 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Milan Nohaj, the applicant, note that the Government of the Slovak Republic are prepared to pay me the sum of 120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand) Slovakian korunas 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 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
NOHAJ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION
NOHAJ v. SLOVAKIA DECISION