CASE OF SHARRA AND OTHERS VERSUS ALBANIA

The case originated in twelve applications (nos. 25038/08, 64376/09, 64399/09, 347/10, 1376/10, 4036/10, 12889/10, 20240/10, 29442/10, 29617/10, 33154/11 and 2032/12) against the Republic of Albania lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by 61 Albanian nationals. The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 about the length of proceedings as a result of the non-enforcement of the Commission decisions. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds and therefore declares it admissible.

The applicants alleged that there had been a breach of Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention as well as of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention on account of the non-enforcement of final domestic decisions awarding them compensation in lieu of the restitution of their properties.

 In view of the ineffective nature of the current system of compensation and having regard, in particular, to the fact that it is now between 8 and 21 years since the applicants were initially awarded compensation, the Court, without prejudging possible future developments with regard to the establishment of an effective compensation mechanism, considers it reasonable to award the applicants a sum which would represent a final and exhaustive settlement of the cases.

The Court reiterates its established principle that the pecuniary damage to be awarded in cases of unlawful expropriation should correspond to the current value of the property if restitutio in integrum were not possible (see Brumărescu v. Romania (just satisfaction) [GC], no. 28342/95, §§ 19‑24, ECHR 2001‑I, and Scordino v. Italy (no. 3) (just satisfaction)). The Court examined a similar issue in Vrioni and Others v. Albania (just satisfaction), nos. 35720/04 and 42832/06, §§ 33-39, 7 December 2010, in which it reasoned and concluded that, in the case of unlawful expropriations, such as in the present applications, in respect of which the authorities awarded compensation in lieu of complete restoration of the property, the amount of compensation would correspond to the current value of the property.

According to the Court’s case-law, “an applicant is entitled to the reimbursement of costs and expenses only in so far as it has been shown that these have been actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as to quantum” (see Gjyli v. Albania, no. 32907/07, § 72, 29 September 2009). To this end, Rule 60 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court provides that applicants must enclose with their claims for just satisfaction “any relevant supporting documents”, failing which the Court “may reject the claims in whole or in part”.Having regard to its findings, the repetitive nature of the complaints raised in the above applications, the similar submissions made to the Court, the representation of the applicants by the same lawyer and the Court’s view that the majority of the costs and expenses claimed were not reasonable as to quantum, the Court considers it reasonable to make awards in respect of costs and expenses.

Decision of the Court

Declares the complaints concerning Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention as well as Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 as regards the non-enforcement of final domestic decisions and the length of the proceedings admissible and the remainder of the applications inadmissible;

Holds that there has been a breach of Articles 6 § 1 and 13 as well as of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention on account of the non-enforcement of final domestic decisions;

Holds that it is not necessary to examine the complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention as regards the length of the proceedings;

Holds

(a)  that the respondent State must secure, by appropriate means, the enforcement of the domestic decisions given in the applicants’ favor in application nos. 347/10 and 33154/11 within three months;

(b)  that the respondent State is to pay the applicants jointly, in applications nos. 25038/08, 64376/09, 64399/09, 1376/10, 4036/10, 12889/10, 20240/10, 29442/10, 29617/10 and 2032/12 within three months, the amounts referred to in paragraphs 90 and 97 of the judgment and tabulated in Appendix 3, plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into the national currency at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;

(c)  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;

Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claim for just satisfaction.

 Source: ECtHR judgements

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