z dnia 15 kwietnia 2014 r.
Application no. 27860/09
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 15 April 2014 as a Committee composed of:
Ann Power-Forde, President,
Boštjan M. Zupančič,
Helena Jäderblom, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 22 May 2009,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Izidora Majcen, is a Slovenian national, who was born in 1953 and lives in Ljubljana.
The Slovenian Government ("the Government") were represented by their Agent.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. The inheritance proceedings
On 22 March 1999 the Vrhnika Local Court received the coroner's certificate (smrtovnica) of the applicant's deceased mother M.P. who had died in February 1999.
On 12 November 1999 the Vrhnika Local Court held the first hearing in the inheritance proceedings. The applicant disputed the validity of a contract of conveyance (izročilna pogodba) concluded between M.P. and the applicant's sister I.R. In order to determine the applicant's statutory share in the inheritance, the court decided to appoint experts to assess the value of the inheritance.
On 13 December 1999 the court issued a decision to appoint a construction and an agricultural expert.
On 25 April 2000 the applicant made a motion for an interim order in respect of I.R.'s disposition with the property transferred to her by the contract of conveyance.
On 26 April 2000 the court upheld the applicant's motion for an interim order. I.R. lodged an objection.
On 23 May 2000 the appointed construction expert submitted his expert opinion.
On 26 June 2000 the court held a hearing in order to decide on I.R.'s objection to the interim order.
On 3 July 2000 the court dismissed I.R.'s objection to the interim order.
On 8 August 2000 the agricultural expert submitted her expert opinion.
On 20 November 2000 the court held a hearing. As the applicant and I.R. could not agree on the value of the applicant's statutory share and legal nature of the aforementioned contract of conveyance it issued an order to stay the proceedings and referred I.R. to contentious proceedings. I.R. appealed.
On 18 April 2001 the Ljubljana Higher Court granted I.R.'s appeal and referred the case back to the first instance court.
A hearing scheduled for 4 December was cancelled at the applicant's representative's request.
On 14 December 2001 the Vrhnika Local Court held a hearing and decided to stay the inheritance proceedings and to refer the applicant to contentious proceedings. The order was issued in writing on 1 March 2002.
2. The contentious proceedings
On 22 April 2002 the applicant, in accordance with the instructions of the Vrhnika Local Court, instituted contentious proceedings against I.R. before the Ljubljana District Court.
On 20 September 2002 the court held a mediation hearing.
The first main hearing scheduled for 3 April 2003 was postponed to 17 April 2003 at the applicant's request.
On 1 April 2003 the applicant amended her claim.
On 6 April 2003 I.R lodged an objection against the amendment of the claim.
After further two postponements of the main hearing the court on 18 June 2003 held the first main hearing and allowed the amendment of the claim.
Further two hearings were held on 11 September 2003 and 10 November 2003.
A hearing scheduled for 15 January 2004 was postponed at the request of the applicant.
Following the adjournment of a hearing scheduled for 12 February 2004 due to an illness of the judge, the next hearing was scheduled for 17 December 2004. On the latter date the Ljubljana District Court issued its decision, dismissing the applicant's claim. The applicant appealed.
On 23 March 2005 the Ljubljana Higher Court granted the applicant's appeal and remitted the case back to the first instance court.
On 7 September 2005 the Ljubljana District Court held a hearing and issued its decision, dismissing the applicant's claim. The applicant appealed.
On 18 January 2006 the Ljubljana Higher Court dismissed the applicant's appeal. The applicant lodged an appeal on points of law.
On 15 May 2008 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant's appeal on points of law. The applicant lodged a constitutional complaint.
On 24 November 2008 the Constitutional Court dismissed the applicant's constitutional complaint.
3. Continuation of the inheritance proceedings
On 1 February 2006 the Vrhnika Local Court received the case file from the Ljubljana District Court.
As the court received no information from any of the parties on whether the contentious proceedings had terminated, it made between February 2006 and May 2008 six enquiries with the Ljubljana District Court on the state of contentious proceedings. The latter replied that the case file was with the Supreme Court which examined the applicant's appeal on points of law.
On 15 October 2008 I.R. informed the court that the applicant's appeal on points of law had been dismissed and requested the court to resume the inheritance proceedings.
On 22 October 2008 the court scheduled a hearing for 18 November 2008.
At the hearing held on 18 November 2008 the applicant requested the court to again stay the inheritance proceedings in order to await the outcome of her constitutional appeal. The court dismissed the applicant's request and issued decree of distribution of the inherited property (sklep o dedovanju). The decision became final on 1 January 2009.
B. Relevant domestic law
For relevant domestic law, see the judgments Grzinčič v. Slovenia (no. 26867/02, §§ 38-48, 3 May 2007), Lesjak v. Slovenia (no. 33946/03, 21 July 2009) and Tomažič v. Slovenia (no. 38350/02, 13 December 2007).
The applicant complains under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention about the length of proceedings and lack of effective remedy in this respect.
The Court notes that the determination of the applicants' civil rights within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention began in the inheritance proceedings and continued in the contentious proceedings (see, Šakanovič v. Slovenia, no. 32989/02, § 26, 13 December 2007).
As regards the inheritance proceedings, the Court notes that these were terminated on 1 January 2009, when the decision of the Vrhnika Local Court became final, which is more than three months after the 2006 Act on the Protection of the Right to a Trial without Undue Delay became operational. The applicant therefore had at her disposal domestic remedies, which she failed to exhaust.
Having regards to the Court's well-established case-law (see Grzinčič v. Slovenia, cited above, § 110 and Nezirovič v. Slovenia, no. 16400/06, (dec.), §§ 27-42, 18 November 2008) the complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention regarding the length of the inheritance proceedings should be rejected under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies and the complaint under Article 13 of the Convention under Article 35 § 3 of the Convention for being manifestly ill-founded.
As regards the reasonableness of the contentious proceedings, it is noted that the overall length of this proceedings was six years and seven months at four levels of jurisdiction, which in the circumstances of the present case cannot be considered excessive. The Court therefore finds that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected under Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
As to the complaint regarding the lack of effective remedies before the domestic courts, the Court recalls that Article 13 requires the State to provide an effective legal remedy to deal with the substance of an "arguable complaint" under the Convention and to grant appropriate relief (see Sürmeli v. Germany [GC], no. 75529/01, § 98, 8 June 2006). Considering that the complaint about the excessive length of the contentious proceedings is inadmissible as manifestly ill-founded, the Court finds that the applicant did not have an arguable claim that her right to an effective remedy within the meaning of Article 13 was violated.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
Declares the application inadmissible.