Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) of Court (Fifth Section), May 21, 2015 (case CASE OF HAJRUDINOVIĆ v. SLOVENIA)

JudgeVERSTOVSEK B.
DefenseSLOVENIA
Resolution DateMay 21, 2015
Issuing OrganizationCourt (Fifth Section)

FIFTH SECTION

CASE OF HAJRUDINOVIĆ v. SLOVENIA

(Application no. 69319/12)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

21 May 2015

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Hajrudinović v. Slovenia,

The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

             Mark Villiger, President,              Angelika Nußberger,              Boštjan M. Zupančič,              Ganna Yudkivska,              Vincent A. De Gaetano,              Helena Jäderblom,              Aleš Pejchal, judges,and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 14 April 2015,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

  1. The case originated in an application (no. 69319/12) against the Republic of Slovenia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Slovenian national, Mr Ahmet Hajrudinović (“the applicant”), on 22 October 2012.

  2. The applicant was represented by Mr B. Verstovšek, a lawyer practising in Celje. The Slovenian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mrs V. Klemenc, State Attorney.

  3. The applicant alleged, in particular, under Article 6 of the Convention, that the length of the proceedings to which he had been a party had been excessive. He also complained of the lack of an effective domestic remedy in respect of the excessive length of the proceedings (Article 13 of the Convention).

  4. On 2 March 2014 the application was communicated to the Government.

    THE FACTS

    1. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

  5. The applicant was born in 1956 and lives in Jesenice.

    1. Labour proceedings

  6. On 15 April 1998 the Kranj District Court instituted insolvency proceedings against the company S., at that time the applicant’s employer.

  7. On 29 April 1998 the receiver in insolvency issued a decision on the termination of the applicant’s employment contract with the company S.

  8. On an unknown date, the applicant lodged his claim for a redundancy payment in the insolvency proceedings. Since the receiver disputed the claim, the Kranj District Court on 11 September 1998 referred the applicant to labour proceedings.

  9. On 22 December 1998 the applicant instituted proceedings before the Kranj Divison of the Labour and Social Court.

  10. In the same period about 150 claims similar to that of the applicant were lodged before the same court.

  11. In 1999 the Kranj Labour and Social Court issued decisions in four cases similar to the applicant’s, dismissing the claims. It held that the workers who had lost their jobs owing to the employer’s insolvency before section 19 of the 1999 Act Amending the Guarantee Fund of the Republic of Slovenia Act (“the 1999 Act”) became effective were not entitled to a redundancy payment. Section 19 explicitly foresaw a right to a redundancy payment for workers who were let go after a company had become insolvent.

  12. In 2000 several applications for a constitutional review of section 19 of the 1999 Act were lodged with the Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of non-retroactive application of that provision.

  13. On 5 October 2001, following the negative decisions issued in the four cases (see paragraph 11 above), the trade union which was also representing the applicant requested the court to postpone hearings scheduled in other cases. The union wanted to first check whether the other workers wanted to withdraw their claims in order to avoid the costs of the proceedings.

  14. No formal decision on adjourning or staying the proceedings was issued by the court.

  15. On 10 April 2003 the Constitutional Court dismissed the motions for review of the constitutionality of section 19 of the 1999 Act. It held that they were unfounded, since they were based on the false premises that the right to a redundancy payment for workers laid off because of their employer’s insolvency was introduced only by section 19, and that moreover it did not apply retroactively. Referring to its own decisions issued in 1994, 1995 and 2000, it stressed that this right had already been foreseen by the general labour legislation in force prior to the adoption of the 1999 Act. It explained that the purpose of Section 19 was solely to explicitly clarify that also workers who lost their jobs because of the insolvency of their employers were entitled to redundancy payments. Such clarification was needed because of the conflicting case-law of the lower courts. In this respect the Constitutional Court emphasised that while it could not interfere with the correct interpretation of legal norms by the lower courts, the latter could not apply an interpretation which would be unconstitutional, arbitrary, or clearly wrong.

  16. On 14 July 2003, the parties settled with the company S., which acknowledged the applicant’s claim.

    1. Proceedings concerning a claim for damages on account of the length of the labour proceedings (“the compensation proceedings”)

  17. On 13 July 2006 the applicant lodged a claim for compensation for damage sustained because of the length of the labour proceedings.

  18. On 27 September 2007 the Ljubljana Local Court dismissed his claim. It held that Section 25 of the 2006 Act on Protection of the Right to a Trial without Undue Delay (“the 2006 Act”) was not applicable, since that provision only applied to cases where an individual had already lodged an application on account of length of proceedings before an international court. Applying the general rules of the 2001 Code of Obligations on pecuniary damages, it further concluded that since the case had been settled the applicant had failed to prove that he had incurred any damage. In any case, there was also no causal link between the conduct of the court and the damage allegedly sustained. The applicant appealed.

  19. On 9 January 2008 the Ljubljana Higher Court upheld the applicant’s appeal and remitted the case back to the first-instance court.

  20. On 8 May 2008 the Ljubljana Local Court, in a renewed set of proceedings, again dismissed the applicant’s claim. It concluded that he had failed to prove either any damage on account of delays in the...

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