CASE OF LACEJ AND OTHERS v. ALBANIA (European Court of Human Rights) 22122/08

The applicants complained in substance of the excessive length of civil proceedings, in particular those before the Supreme Court.


THIRD SECTION
CASE OF LACEJ AND OTHERS v. ALBANIA
(Application no. 22122/08)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
29 September 2022

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Lacej and Others v. Albania,

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Andreas Zünd, President,
Darian Pavli,
Frédéric Krenc, judges,
and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 8 September 2022,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in an application against Albania lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on 5 April 2008.

2. The applicants were represented by Mr B. Muslija, a lawyer practising in Shkoder.

3. The Albanian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the application.

THE FACTS

4. The list of applicants and the relevant details of the application are set out in the appended table.

5. The applicants complained in substance of the excessive length of civil proceedings, in particular those before the Supreme Court.

THE LAW

I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION

6. The applicants complained that the length of the civil proceedings in question had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement. They relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which reads 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 …”

A. Applicants Sadik Llukacej and Adan Ulqinaku

7. As to the applicants Sadik Llukacej and Adnan Ulqinaku, having regard to the materials before it the Court observes that these applicants were not a party to the domestic proceedings in question. Therefore, those applicants cannot claim to be a “victim” of a violation of their Convention rights because of the allegedly lengthy proceedings. It follows that in their regard the complaint is incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention, within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

B. Remaining three applicants, Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse Autoqefale e Shqipërisë and Komuniteti Musliman i Shqipërisë

8. As to the applicants, Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse Autoqefale e Shqipërisë (Kisha Orthodokse), Komuniteti Musliman i Shqipërisë (Komuniteti Musliman), the Court notes that they participated in the domestic proceedings in question, including those before the Supreme Court. In the light of the elements in its possession, the Court observes that the appeal on points of law was registered on 26 January 2010 before the Supreme Court, and it was almost after four years of inactivity, that is in 2014 when the Supreme Court held four hearings on the matter.

9. In the leading cases of Luli and Others v. Albania (nos. 64480/09 and 5 others, 1 April 2014), Mishgjoni v. Albania (no. 18381/05, 7 December 2010) and Bara and Kola v. Albania (nos. 43391/18 and 17766/19, 12 October 2021) the Court already found a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in respect of issues similar to those in the present case.

10. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court has not found any fact or argument capable of justifying the length of the proceedings at the national level, in particular before the Supreme Court. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.

11. The complaint is therefore admissible and discloses a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in respect of the above-mentioned three applicants.

II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

12. 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.”

13. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Luli and Others, cited above, and Mishgjoni, also cited above), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table to the three applicants, Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse Autoqefale e Shqipërisë (Kisha Orthodokse), Komuniteti Musliman i Shqipërisë (Komuniteti Musliman).

14. The Court further 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 brought by the three applicants, Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse and Komuniteti Musliman, admissible and the complaints by the remaining two applicants inadmissible;

2. Holds that there has been a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the excessive length of civil proceedings;

3. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the three applicants, Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse and Komuniteti Musliman, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State 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 29 September 2022, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina                   Andreas Zünd
Acting Deputy Registrar                 President

___________

APPENDIX
Application raising complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
(excessive length of civil proceedings)

Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth, where relevant
Representative’s name and location Start of proceedings or date of entry into force of the Convention in respect of Albania
(2 October 1996)
End of proceedings Total length
Levels of jurisdiction
Amount awarded for non-pecuniary damage per applicant
(in euros)[1]
Amount awarded for costs and expenses per application
(in euros)[2]
22122/08
05/04/2008
(5 applicants)
Sadik LLUKACAJ
1936 
Adnan ULQINAKU
1940
Muslija Bashkim
SHKODËR
Hasan LACEJ
1935 
 KISHA ORTHODOKSE AUTOQEFALE E SHQIPËRISË
 KOMUNITETI MUSLIMAN I SHQIPËRISË (MYFTINIA SHKODËR)
26/01/2010 24/04/2014 4 year(s) and
3 month(s); 1 level(s) of jurisdiction
1,200,
to be paid to each of the three applicants,
Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse and Komuniteti Musliman.
250,
to be paid jointly to the three applicants,
Hasan Lacej, Kisha Orthodokse and Komuniteti Musliman.[1] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.

[2] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.

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