Facts: The case concerns the ownership of a plot of land in the city centre of Kaunas, Lithuania. The plot was nationalised following the Soviet occupation in the 1940s. Ownership of the houses was attributed to Mr Nekvedavičius’ father’s former wife, who continued living there until ownership was transferred to third persons in the 1960s. After Lithuania regained independence in 1990, Mr Nekvedavičius started proceedings to regain ownership.
The administrative and civil suits he brought attempting to repossess the buildings were unsuccessful, but he did obtain a judgment in his favour in relation to ownership of the plot of land in November 2001. However, the Lithuanian courts held that it was not possible to return the original land to him because it was being used by other people.
Since then there have been a number of investigations and court hearings but Mr Nekvedavičius has not been compensated for the loss of the land.
Issue: The case was brought to the Court to decide whether there was a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time) and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the Convention.
Holdings: Yes, there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time); Yes, there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: The Court noticed that the judgment of 27 November 2001 guaranteed the applicant the restoration of his property rights, however a significant part of the actions taken by the authorities may be considered ineffective, repetitive and not aimed at restoring the applicant’s property rights.
The Court noticed that the applicant’s inability to have the judgment enforced constituted an interference with his right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. It found that the Government did not demonstrate the existence of any exceptional circumstance capable of justifying the delay in enforcing the said judgment and the obstruction to the peaceful enjoyment of the property is mainly attributable to the state.
The Court concludes that the domestic authorities failed to respect the obligations placed on them by the judgment of 27 November 2001 and the principle of the proper administration of justice. By failing to execute the said judgment, the respondent State prevented the applicant from having his property rights restored for a prolonged period of time. Thus the applicant’s legitimate expectation to receive compensation was unjustifiably affected.
Just satisfaction: The court held that Lithuania was to pay the applicant 7,800 Euros in respect of non-pecuniary damages and 8,770 Euros in respect of costs and expenses.