Last Updated on October 2, 2020 by LawEuro
Communicated on 4 March 2019
Nina Aleksandrovna BELOVA
lodged on 12 June 2008
STATEMENT OF FACTS
1. The applicant, Ms Nina Aleksandrovna Belova, is a Russian national, who was born in 1972 and lives in Sochi. She is represented before the Court by Mr M. Ioffe, a lawyer practising in Riga.
A. The circumstances of the case
2. The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
3. In 1977, Southern Cultures, a State farming enterprise, dug a pond on Golubaya Street in Sochi. On its banks a bathhouse and accommodation were built. The land under the property belonged to the State and was managed (хозяйственноеведение) by the farm.
4. In April 2003 the enterprise signed the property over to K. in settlement of a debt. K. registered the contract in the Property Registration Authority and received the title deeds.
5. In November 2003 K. sold the property to M.
6. On 28 May 2004 M. sold the property to the applicant. The applicant had her acquisition recorded by the Property Registration Authority and received the title deeds.
7. In 2012 the State Property Agency served an eviction notice on the applicant claiming that the enterprise had failed to seek the Agency’s authorisation before signing over the property.
8. On 20 July 2012 the Adler District Court dismissed that action as time-barred.
9. On 4 October 2012 the Krasnodar Regional Court reversed that judgment and held against the applicant. The court found that the land under the property belonged to the State and had been designated for Olympic construction, that the applicant was a good-faith buyer but that the property might nonetheless be recovered from her under Article 302 of the Civil Code because the State had not agreed to the original transfer of the title. The court ordered the applicant to return the property to the State and cancelled her title deeds.
10. On 23 November 2012 a judge of the Regional Court refused the applicant leave for appeal in cassation.
11. On 8 August 2013 a judge of the Supreme Court refused the applicant leave for appeal in cassation.
12. In 2011, in different (though related) proceedings the applicant sought an injunction against the State Property Agency obliging it to delineate the land plot under her property on the cadastral map.
13. On 5 October 2011 the Adler District Court granted the injunction.
14. On 17 November 2011 the Krasnodar Regional Court upheld that decision.
15. On 18 April 2012 the Presidium of the Krasnodar Regional Court heard the Agency’s appeal in cassation. The hearing was attended by the respondent (the State Property Agency) and two third-party respondents (the public Committee for the Preparation of the 2014 Winter Olympics and a private company which held a contract for the construction on the disputed land). The Presidium noted that all the parties had been duly notified of the date and place of the hearing. The Presidium allowed the Agency’s appeal, reversed the earlier decisions and rejected the applicant’s claim. It held, in substance, that the disputed land belonged to the State and had been destined for use as a bird reserve and a 500-room five-star hotel which would accommodate representatives of the International Olympic Committee.
B. Relevant domestic law
16. Article 302 of the Civil Code 1994:
Recovery of property from a good-faith acquirer
“1. If property was acquired for consideration from a person who had no right to transfer it, and if the acquirer did not and could not have known about this (a good-faith acquirer), the owner may recover that property from the acquirer if the property had been lost by him or his trustee, if it had been stolen from them, or if it had otherwise left their possession against their will.”
17. Article 385 § 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure 2002:
“2. Parties shall be notified of the time and place of the examination of an appeal in cassation … but their non-appearance shall not be an obstacle to such an examination.”
18. The applicant complains that she was unlawfully deprived of her property.
19. The applicant also complains under Article 6 of the Convention that the Presidium of the Krasnodar Regional Court examined the appeal in cassation in her absence. She alleges that she was not notified of that hearing.
QUESTIONS TO THE PARTIES
1. Has the applicant been deprived of her possessions in accordance with the conditions provided for by law and in accordance with the principles of international law, within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1? In particular, did that deprivation impose an excessive individual burden on the applicant (see ImmobiliareSaffi v. Italy, [GC], no. 22774/93, § 59, ECHR 1999-V?
2. Did the applicant have a fair hearing in the determination of her civil rights and obligations, in accordance with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention? In particular, was the principle of equality of arms respected as regards the applicant’s absence from the hearing before the Presidium of the Krasnodar Regional Court of 18 April 2012?