The case originated in an application against the Republic of Lithuania lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Lithuanian national, Ms Marija Arbačiauskienė (“the applicant”), on 9 January 2008.
Issue: The applicant alleged that the domestic authorities had failed to enforce the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 5 May 2007, which had confirmed her right to buy a plot of land from the State. She also alleged that she had not had an effective remedy against the lengthy non-enforcement of that judgment. The applicant complained about the non-enforcement of the Supreme Administrative Court’s judgment of 5 May 2007 which had confirmed her right to acquire two hectares of land assigned to her by the local authorities in 1995. The applicant also complained about the length of the enforcement proceedings. She relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, the relevant part of which 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’s Assessment: In light of all of the information and findings, the Court concluded that the actions taken by the domestic authorities to enforce the final and binding judgment of 5 May 2007 cannot be considered sufficiently speedy and falling in line with the principle of the proper administration of justice. It follows that by failing for many years to take the necessary measures to comply with the final judgment in the present case, the Lithuanian authorities impaired the very essence of the applicant’s rights under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. There has accordingly been a violation of that provision.
Decision of the court:
Holdings: The Court unanimously holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. Also, the Court found that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention.
Therefore, the Court holds that the respondent State is to enforce the judgment of 5 May 2007 in the applicant’s favour, in full satisfaction of her claim of pecuniary damage, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention; that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within the same three-month period, EUR 7,000 (seven thousand Euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage; that 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.
The Court dismissed the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Costs and expenses: The applicant did not submit a claim for the costs and expenses incurred before the domestic courts and before the Court. Accordingly, the Court makes no award under this heading.
Damages: The applicant claimed 760,092 Euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage, consisting of EUR 748,378 corresponding to the market value of two hectares of land in the Buivydiškės cadastral area, assessed by the Centre of Registers; EUR 11,714 corresponding to the income which the applicant would have received from agricultural activities on the plot of land until 2015. The applicant also claimed EUR 50,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage for the distress, inconvenience and negative emotions suffered due to the lengthy non-enforcement of the judgment. The Government contested those amounts. They submitted that the value of the land, provided by the applicant, was unsubstantiated because it had not been assessed in accordance with the land value maps adopted by the State authorities. They further submitted that the allegedly lost income was not related to the violations of the applicant’s rights under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention. The Government argued that the applicant’s claim for pecuniary damage would be best satisfied by the complete enforcement of the judgment of 5 May 2007. The Government also considered the applicant’s claim for non-pecuniary damage excessive and unsubstantiated. However, the Court considers that the applicant undoubtedly suffered distress and frustration because of the violations of her rights under Article 6 § 1 and Article 13 of the Convention, found in the present case. Making its award on an equitable basis, the Court awards EUR 7,000 under this heading.