Case of European Court of Human Rights, March 26, 2020 (case DE CICCO v. ITALY)

Resolution Date:March 26, 2020

Violation of Article 6 - Right to a fair trial (Article 6 - Civil proceedings;Article 6-1 - Reasonable time)




(Application no. 28841/03)



26 March 2020

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of De Cicco v. Italy,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Tim Eicke, President,Jovan Ilievski,Raffaele Sabato, judges,and Renata Degener, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to:

the application against the Italian Republic lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by an Italian national, Mr Vincenzo De Cicco (“the applicant”), on 9 February 2000;

the decision to give notice of the application to the Italian Government (“the Government”);

the parties’ observations;

Having deliberated in private on 3 March 2020,

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


The case concerns the establishment of an easement on the applicant’s land and the length of the related domestic proceedings. The applicant relied on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention and Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.


  1. The applicant was born in 1940 and lives in Benevento. The applicant was represented by Mr S. Ferrara, a lawyer practising in Benevento.

  2. The Italian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their former Agent, Ms E. Spatafora, and their former co‑Agent, Ms P. Accardo.

  3. The applicant was the owner of a plot of land in Benevento. The land in issue was recorded in the land register as Folio no. 14, Parcels nos. 1055 and 1153.

  4. On 17 April 1990 the President of the Campania Regional Council approved a plan to construct power lines on the applicant’s land.

  5. On 28 May 1991 the Mayor of Benevento issued an order authorising the public electricity company, ENEL, to occupy the applicant’s land for a period of five years in order to begin the construction of the power lines.

  6. On 8 July 1991, ENEL took physical possession of the land and began the construction work.

  7. On 3 October 1994 the applicant brought an action for damages against ENEL before the Benevento District Court. He alleged that the occupation of the land had been unlawful as the Mayor’s order of 28 May 1991 had not specified the beginning and end dates of the five-year occupation period. Moreover, he argued that the construction work had been completed without a formal order establishing an easement having been issued. He thus sought restitution of the land and the dismantling of the power lines or, alternatively, compensation for the easement established on his property and a further sum for the loss of enjoyment of the land.

  8. On an unspecified date the court ordered an expert valuation of the land. In a report submitted on 7 July 1998 the expert found that the deadline for the lawful occupation of the land had expired on 7 July 1996. He further noted that the order issued by the Mayor of Benevento did not indicate the start and end date of the construction work and of any expropriation proceedings. The expert then proceeded to calculate the compensation due to the applicant for the easement permitting electric lines (servitù di elettrodotto) which would be attached to his property, which in his opinion amounted to 8,115,000 Italian lire (ITL). The expert further determined that the loss in value of the remainder of the applicant’s property after the imposition of an easement would amount to ITL 14 million.

  9. In a judgment of 14 December 2006, filed with the registry on 19 December 2006, the Benevento District Court held that the occupation of the applicant’s land with a view to erecting the power lines had not been carried out in accordance with the law. That said, in the court’s view ordering the removal of the power lines would have been “seriously damaging to the country’s economic system”, and therefore was not an option it could have envisaged. The court established an easement over electric lines on the applicant’s land and held that the applicant was entitled to compensation as calculated by the expert, adjusted for inflation and to be increased by the amount of statutory interest due.

  10. The applicant did not lodge...

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