Failure to execute decisions for the transfer of property constitutes a violation of the right to property.
Stamova v. Bulgaria (no. 8725/07) 19.01.2017
Right to property. Non-execution of irrevocable court decisions for the transfer of property by the Municipality. The case concerned the applicant’s complaint, both in her personal capacity and as a trader, of the failure of the authorities to transfer her a shop belonging to the municipality. On the basis of Article 1 of Protocol No 1 (protection of property) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the applicant complained of the failure of the municipal authorities to enforce three irrevocable court orders ordering the transfer of the shop to her, also claiming , that there was no effective remedy in respect of the claim for damages either by the State or by the municipality in respect of this complaint. The ECtHR found a double violation of the Convention.
Article 1 of Protocol No 1
The applicant, Elka Dimitrova Stamova, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1958 and lives in Burgas (Bulgaria). The case concerned her complaint, both in her personal capacity and as a sole
trader, about the authorities’ failure to sell to her a municipally-owned shop.
In April 1993 Ms Stamova started renting a municipally-owned shop in the town of Primorsko. In 1995 she asked her local council if she could purchase the shop under a preferential privatisation procedure. As the council did not reply, she brought judicial proceedings. In three final judgments in 2003, 2005 and 2008 the courts ordered the municipal authorities to open a privatisation procedure in Ms Stamova’s favour. However, the judgments remain unenforced to date.
In the meantime, the local authorities had attempted to evict Ms Stamova from the premises, without success. The local council had also subsequently ordered the shop’s sale and demolition as it was considered dilapidated and unsafe. The shop was ultimately sold in 2005 and the mayor ordered the new buyer to demolish the shop, which he did in February 2006. Ms Stamova, unaware that the shop had been sold, found out about the demolition from an acquaintance.
In 2011 Ms Stamova also lodged a claim for damages. The claim was split into two sets of proceedings, against the mayor for ordering the demolition of the shop and against the municipal council for its failure to offer to sell her the shop. The proceedings against the mayor were later terminated on the ground that Ms Stamova did not have standing to pursue the claim. The proceedings against the council were examined at two levels of jurisdiction and in a final decision of December 2014 the Supreme Administrative Court rejected Ms Stamova’s claim. Ms Stamova was ordered to pay around 4,000 euros for costs and expenses at the end of these proceedings.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Relying on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), Ms Stamova complained about the municipal authorities’ failure to implement three final
judgments ordering them to sell the shop to her, alleging also that there had been no effective remedies for seeking damages either from the State or the municipality in connection with this complaint.
Violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
Just satisfaction: EUR 25,000 (pecuniary damage), EUR 5,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 7,836 (costs and expenses)