The applicant complained of the excessive length of two sets of concurrent civil proceedings he had instituted before the Zagreb Municipal Labour Court. The relevant information are contained in the appended table as regards the first set of those proceedings, and in paragraph 12 below as regards the second set of those proceedings.
CASE OF SALAMEH v. CROATIA
(Application no. 38943/15)
14 October 2021
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Salameh v. Croatia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Erik Wennerström, President,
Lorraine Schembri Orland,
Ioannis Ktistakis, judges,
and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 23 September 2021,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application against Croatia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on 31 July 2015.
2. The applicant was represented by Ms L. Horvat, a lawyer practising in Zagreb.
3. The Croatian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the application.
4. The applicant’s details and information relevant to the application are set out in the appended table.
5. The applicant complained of the excessive length of two sets of concurrent civil proceedings he had instituted before the Zagreb Municipal Labour Court. The relevant information are contained in the appended table as regards the first set of those proceedings, and in paragraph 12 below as regards the second set of those proceedings.
6. The applicant also complained that he had not had an effective remedy to complain about the excessive length of those two sets of proceedings.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 and ARTICle 13 OF THE CONVENTION
7. The applicant complained that the length of the two sets of the civil proceedings in question had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement and that he had not had an effective remedy to complain about their length. He relied on Article 6 § 1 and Article 13 of the Convention, which read as follows:
Article 6 § 1
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations … everyone is entitled to a … hearing within a reasonable time by [a] … tribunal …”
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”
A. First set of the proceedings
8. The Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the 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 (see Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII). The Court further reiterates that special diligence is necessary in employment disputes (see Ruotolo v. Italy, judgment of 27 February 1992, Series A no. 230-D, p. 39, § 17).
9. In the leading cases of Kirinčić and Others v. Croatia, no. 31386/17, 30 July 2020 and Mirjana Marić v. Croatia, no. 9849/15, 30 July 2020, the Court already found violations in respect of similar complaints.
10. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court has not found any fact or argument capable of justifying the overall length of the first set of the proceedings at the national level. Having regard to its case‑law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of those proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement, and that the applicant did not have an effective remedy to complain about their length.
11. These complaints, in so far as they concern the first set of the proceedings, are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 and a breach of Article 13 of the Convention.
B. Second set of the proceedings
12. The Court notes that on 9 September 2020 the Constitutional Court awarded the applicant 17,600 Croatian kunas in compensation for a violation of his right to a hearing within a reasonable time in the second set of the proceedings, namely proceedings nos. Pr-2412/12 and Pr-1907/19 which the applicant had instituted on 13 July 2012 and which are currently pending on appeal before the Zagreb County Court. It also ordered the Zagreb Municipal Labour Court to deliver a judgment in the applicant’s case within six months; that time-limit was complied with on 13 January 2021.
13. Given that the applicant obtained redress of both compensatory and preventive nature, the Court considers that the sum awarded to him is sufficient. Therefore, in respect of the period susceptible to the Constitutional Court’s scrutiny, the applicant can no longer claim to be a “victim”, within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention, of a violation of his right to a hearing within a reasonable time. The period after the Constitutional Court’s decision is too short to give rise to a further, independent violation of that right. Moreover, in those circumstances it cannot be argued that the applicant did not have an effective remedy to complain about the length of the second set of the proceedings.
14. It follows that, to the extent that the applicant’s complaints concern the second set of the proceedings, they are inadmissible under Article 34 and Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
15. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
16. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Kirinčić and Others v. Croatia, no. 31386/17, §§ 120-28, 30 July 2020 and Mirjana Marić v. Croatia, no. 9849/15, §§ 98‑104, 30 July 2020), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.
17. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the complaints concerning the first set of the proceedings admissible, and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the excessive length of the first set of civil proceedings;
3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant on those amounts, to be converted into Croatian kunas at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 14 October 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Viktoriya Maradudina Erik Wennerström
Acting Deputy Registrar President
Application raising complaints under Article 6 § 1 and Article 13 of the Convention
(excessive length of civil proceedings and lack of an effective remedy in that regard)
Date of introduction
Year of birth
|Representative’s name and location||Relevant starting date||End of proceedings||Total length
Levels of jurisdiction
|Domestic court / file number||Amount awarded for non-pecuniary damage
|Amount awarded for costs and expenses
|27/02/2012||pending||More than 9 years and 4 months
3 levels of jurisdiction
|Zagreb Municipal Labour Court, nos.
 Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant.
 Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant.