Latvia loses ECHR battle over protracted civil case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on September 5 judged that Latvia has to pay €6,000 to a woman over an unreasonably lengthy civil case that lasted over 12 years, the Foreign Ministry said. 

A complaint was lodged with the ECHR in 2011, and now three judges of the European court have ruled that the length of proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement in the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The court ruled the applicant's case was not complex and that even though she did not arrive to several court meetings, according to ECHR this did not significantly affect the length of the proceedings. But the court found that Latvian authorities were responsible for about six years of inactivity in the case. 

"As to the conduct of the State authorities, they were responsible for the postponement of nine hearings amounting to a delay of more than three years and other nearly three years of periods of inactivity before the appellate and Supreme Court that significantly contributed to the overall excessive length of proceedings."

The applicant claimed a compensation of about €71,000. While the ECHR found that no pecuniary damage was suffered, "the Court considers that the applicant must have sustained non-pecuniary damage. Ruling on an equitable basis, and taking into account that some of delays were not attributable to the State; it awards the applicant EUR 6,000 under that head."

Meanwhile Justice Ministry representative Andris Vitenburgs said that over the eight years since the complaint was lodged there have been judiciary reforms to improve the quality and efficiency of court work. 

The judgement is final and cannot be appealed. 

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