BUŞU v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights)

FOURTH SECTION

DECISION

Application no.65283/10
Dumitru BUŞU
against Romania

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 8 January 2019 as a Committee composed of:

Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, President,
Egidijus Kūris,
Iulia AntoanellaMotoc, judges,
and Andrea Tamietti, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 26 October 2010,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

1.  The applicant, Mr DumitruBuşu, is a Romanian national, who was born in 1941 and lives in Bucharest.

2.  The Romanian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms C. Brumar, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A.  The circumstances of the case

3.  The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

4.  On 12 October 2006 the Bucharest Commission for Implementing Law no. 9/1998 on the granting of compensation to Romanian citizens in respect of properties taken over by the Bulgarian State pursuant to the Craiova Treaty of 7 September 1940 adopted a decision granting the applicant compensation for a property owned by his ancestors and taken over by the Bulgarian State. This decision was validated by the Central Commission for Implementing Law no. 9/1998 (the Central Commission) on 29 January 2009.

5.  The applicant brought a court action asking for a higher amount of compensation, to be adjusted with the inflation rate at the date of actual payment. On 3 May 2010 the applicant’s action was dismissed by the Bucharest Court of Appeal.

6.  On 10 June 2013 an extraordinary appeal lodged by the applicant against the above judgment was partially allowed by the Bucharest Court of Appeal and the Central Commission was ordered to pay the applicant the due compensation, as validated by the Central Commission, adjusted with the inflation rate at the date of payment.

7.  On 15 October 2013 the compensation adjusted with the inflation rate was paid to the applicant.

B.  Relevant domestic law

8.  Law no. 9/1998 came into force on 14 March 1998 and was amended in 2004 and 2007. It established a compensatory mechanism for Romanian citizens whose immovable properties were confiscated without due compensation under the Treaty of Craiova, signed by Romania and Bulgaria on 7 September 1940. The mechanism referred essentially to pecuniary compensation or to the right to shares in State-run companies.

9.  Law no. 164/2014 concerning measures for the acceleration and finalisation of the process of resolving compensation claims lodged under Law no. 9/1998 entered into force on 18 December 2014. Article 10 of the law sets out the deadlines by which all payments should be made; paragraphs 4 and 5 of this Article refer essentially to the manner in which the compensation should be adjusted for inflation, on the basis of the consumer price index.

COMPLAINT

10.  The applicant complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention that he suffered a pecuniary loss due to the State’s failure to pay him the compensation adjusted with the inflation rate.

THE LAW

11.  The applicant submitted that the rejection of his claim for the adjustment of the due compensation with the inflation rate had prevented him from receiving adequate compensation for property lost by his ancestors, as provided by Law no. 9/1998. He alleged that there has been a breach of his right to property and relied on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, which reads as follows:

“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

12.  The Government submitted that the applicant had lost his victim status since the amount of compensation, adjusted with the inflation rate, was paid to him on 15 October 2013.

13.  The Court notes that the applicant’s right to compensation based on Law 9/1998 was acknowledged by the national authorities (see paragraph 4 above).

14.  The Court further notes that indeed on 3 May 2010 the Bucharest Court of Appeal rejected the applicant’s request for a higher amount of compensation, to be adjusted with the inflation rate at the date of actual payment (see paragraph 5 above). However, on 10 June 2013 an extraordinary appeal lodged by the applicant against that judgment was allowed by the Bucharest Court of Appeal and the Central Commission was ordered to pay the applicant the due compensation adjusted with the inflation rate at the date of payment (see paragraph 6 above). Moreover, the Court observes that it appears from the documents in the file that the due compensation adjusted with the inflation rate at the date of the actual payment was paid to the applicant on 15 October 2013 (see paragraph 7 above).

15.  In view of the above, it follows that the applicant can no longer claim to be a victim, within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention, of a violation of his rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (see, mutatis mutandis, Lukacs v. Romania (dec.), no. 26577/08, § 29, 10 April 2018).

16.  Therefore, the application must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,

Declares the application inadmissible.

Done in English and notified in writing on 31 January 2019.

Andrea Tamietti                                        Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque
Deputy Registrar                                                      President

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