CASE OF ALEKSA V. LITHUANIA – Application no. 27576/05
Mr Aleksa applied to the European Court of Human Rights against the Republic of Lithuania under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention. On 17 November 1992 the Kaunas City Board restored Mr Aleksa’s property rights to part of a building in Kaunas. In a decision given of 21 March 1994, the Kaunas City mayor annulled Mr Aleksa’s ownership rights to the building and 1/12 of a plot of land. On 3 June 1994 Mr Aleksa brought a civil claim challenging the decision of the local authority. In addition to that, on 12 November 1996 the Kaunas City Municipality had unlawfully reduced the size and modified the location of the plot of land assigned to Mr Aleksa. For several years the lower courts had not examined all the relevant circumstances in that case.
Issue: Complaints concerning the excessive length of the civil proceedings and the inability to enjoy one’s possession.
Decision of the Court
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention on account of the length of the proceedings and the partiality of the domestic courts
Holdings: Yes, there was a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: In the case in question the overall length of the proceedings was 9 years and 7 months for three levels of jurisdiction. The Court noted that the overall length of proceedings must be assessed in light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicant in the dispute. In addition to that the Court noted that Mr Aleksa failed to complain to the domestic courts regarding the alleged partiality of the judges. In particular, he did not raise that issue in his appeal or in his cassation appeal.
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 1 of protocol No. 1 to the Convention
Holdings: Yes, there was a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: The Court noted that the authorities were required to compensate Mr Aleksa, either by allocating to him another property of equal value or by paying him pecuniary compensation.
Other alleged violations of the Convention
Mr Aleksa further complained, under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, that the courts had incorrectly applied domestic procedural and substantive law when examining his claims regarding restitution. The Court reiterated that it is not its task under the Convention to act as a court of appeal, or a so-called court of fourth instance, from the decisions taken by domestic courts.
Costs and expenses: The Court held that Lithuania was to pay Mr Pocius 1,000 Euros in respect of non-pecuniary damages.