The state has to execute its irrevocable court decisions for damages without requiring further procedures for their execution

JUDGMENT

Arnaboldi v. Italy 14.03.2019 (no. 43422/07)

see here

SUMMARY

Non-execution of a court decision. Expropriation of property for the construction of a road. The applicant’s inability to obtain the indemnity finally granted to him by the national court. According to the Court, the refusal of the authorities to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which awarded EUR 653, 821.54 euros hindered the applicant’s right to effective judicial protection. A person who has won a decision against the state is not obliged to subsequently participate in a separate proceeding to obtain the enforcement of the decision. The State authorities disregarding their responsibility to take the necessary steps to allow the actual payment of the compensation, violated the right to respect for the applicant’s property. Infringement of Articles 6 of the ECHR and 1 of the First Additional Protocol to the ECHR. Italy has to pay 880.000 euros for compensation and non-material damage to the applicant.

PROVISIONS

Article 6 par. 1

Article 1 of the First Additional Protocol

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CASE

This decision is extremely useful for cases in which the state does not execute irrevocable court decisions. According to the Court, the plaintiff who has won a case and has issued an irrevocable decision against the state, is not obliged to initiate a new procedure for the enforcement of that decision, but the state has to execute it without any further procedure.

PRINCIPAL FACTS

The applicant, Franco Arnaboldi, is an Italian national who was born in 1941 and lives in Cecina
(Italy). He was the owner of a plot of land on which he had built his primary residence and a
warehouse.

The case concerned the expropriation of Mr Arnaboldi’s land for the construction of a road, and in
particular his failure to obtain the compensation awarded to him by the Florence Court of Appeal.
In 2007 that court found that Mr Arnaboldi’s land had been unlawfully expropriated and ordered the
real estate company Padana Appalti S.p.A. – which had been asked to act on behalf of the national
bridges and highways corporation (ANAS) – to pay him a total of 653,821.54 euros (EUR).

In 2008 Mr Arnaboldi filed his claim for payment with the liquidators of Padana Appalti S.p.A, which
had gone into “extraordinary administration” in 2004. The liquidators explained that the company’s
assets were made up of a building worth about EUR 169,000 and that the preferential claims already
registered amounted in total to EUR 278,000.

In 2010 and 2011 Mr Arnaboldi lodged applications with the Livorno Civil Court and the Tuscany
Regional Administrative Court, stating that he was unable to obtain payment and seeking the return
of his land and/or compensation from the authorities. Those claims were dismissed and he had to
pay costs.

In 2015 the extraordinary administration procedure concerning Padana Appalti S.p.A was concluded
by the distribution of its remaining assets (EUR 54,341.82) between some of the preferential creditors. In the meantime, an expert commissioned by the Livorno District Court, having failed to obtain the payment of his fees (EUR 11,928.44) from the company, brought enforcement proceedings against Mr Arnaboldi, who was liable for the costs. In the context of those enforcement proceedings his primary residence was sold by auction in 2018.

Relying in particular on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
(protection of property), Mr Arnaboldi complained that he had been unable to obtain payment of
the compensation awarded to him by the Court of Appeal of Florence and that he had been deprived
of his property.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT

Violation of article  6 § 1

The Court recalls that, according to its case-law, a person who has won a judgment against the State is not obliged to subsequently participate in a separate procedure in order to obtain its enforcement. It considers that, in the circumstances of the present case, it is appropriate to apply this principle. In the view of the Court, it can not be accepted that the State may refuse to comply with a final decision issued against a company that has become insolvent.

Consequently, in view of the conclusion that the State is liable for the sums due to the applicant, the ECtHR considers that the refusal of the authorities to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the Florence Court of Appeals hindered the right of the person concerned to effective judicial protection guaranteed by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and deprived of any useful effect from the provisions of that Article.

There has therefore been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Violation of Article 1 of the First Additional Protocol

The Court recalls that the “claim” falls within the concept of “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of the First Additional Protocol of the Convention if it is sufficiently proved that it is enforceable.

The Court took the view that the authorities, ignoring their responsibility to take the necessary measures to enable the final payment of irrevocable and appropriate compensation, violated the right to respect for the applicant’s property. This intervention was not based on any valid justification and was therefore arbitrary and violated the principle of legality.

Therefore, there has been a violation of Article 1 of the First Additional Protocol of the ECHR.

just satisfaction:EUR 880,000 (pecuniary damage and non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 8,000 (costs
and expenses(echrcaselaw.com editing).


ECHRCaseLaw

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