Failure to exercise a national effective remedy for breach of reasonable time in civil proceedings. The application is inadmissible
Guravska v. Latvia 10.09.2020 (αριθ. 41553/18)
Reasonable duration of civil proceedings in a civil property dispute. Effective national remedy.
The ECtHR found that the applicant had access to a statutory effective remedy in relation to her complaint about the unreasonable length of the civil proceedings, in the form of a constitutional complaint.
However, the applicant did not use that remedy and appealed directly to Strasbourg. Her appeal was dismissed as inadmissible.
The applicant, Ilona Guravska, is a Latvian national who was born in 1950 and lives in Rīga.
The applicant began proceedings in December 2007 before Riga Regional Court to challenge the
transfer of her property to other private persons and to have it restored to her.
Her claim was dismissed at first-instance in November 2013. The case, including an appeal which
upheld the first-instance decision, ended in February 2018, when the Supreme Court refused to
initiate cassation proceedings.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT…
The Government argued that the applicant had not exhausted domestic remedies for her complaint,
inter alia, she had had Article 92 of the Constitution at her disposal, which provided for the right for
people to defend their rights and lawful interests in a fair court and compensation for anyone whose
rights had been violated without justification. That remedy was complemented by section 1635 of
the Civil Law. The applicant argued that the Government’s objection should be dismissed.
The Court reiterated the provisions of the Convention related to exhausting remedies and the
related case-law on that matter.
It noted that, based on domestic court practice, it had previously rejected arguments by the
Government about the effectiveness of the compensatory remedy under Article 92 of the
Constitution (Veiss v. Latvia (no. 15152/12) and Sļadzevskis v. Latvia (no. 32003/13).
However, it noted that the case-law examples submitted in Ms Guravska’s case, in particular a
judgment of 31 March 2016 by the Civil Cases Department of the Supreme Court, had shown that
the compensatory remedy under Article 92 was applicable to claims concerning the length of civil
proceedings and that such claims could succeed in practice.
The Government had sufficiently established the effectiveness and availability in theory and in
practice of a compensatory remedy for the length of civil proceedings, based on Article 92, even if
section 1635 of the Civil Law was not applicable in public-law disputes against the State.
The judgment of March 2016 had been delivered well before the proceedings in the applicant’s case
had concluded in February 2018. Moreover, the assessment of the length of the civil proceedings
and the level of compensation awarded in that judgment were in line with the Court’s own practice.
While the development of the legal framework for bringing claims against the State for the length of
civil proceedings had been a lengthy process, at the time of the final decision in the applicant’s case
in February 2018 there had existed an effective domestic remedy whose scope and application had
been clearly set out and confirmed by the Supreme Court’s case-law.
The Court therefore upheld the Government’s objection and found that the applicant’s complaint
under Article 6 § 1 had to be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.