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European Court of Human Rights Discussing Another Georgian Case

06.10.2005

European Court of Human Rights Discussing Another Georgian Case

Strasbourg, 05.10.2005 - In the first case, the applicants are “Amat-G”, a limited liability company, and Vazha Mebaghishvili, a Georgian national born in 1960 and living in Tbilisi (Georgia). He is General Director of Amat G.

In the second case, the applicants are “Iza”, a limited liability company, and Nodar Makrakhidze, a Georgian national born in 1956 and living in Tbilisi (Georgia). He is the founder and Director of the construction company Iza.

Amat-G - From 1998 to 1999 Amat-G supplied the Georgian Ministry of Defence with various types of fish products. In October 1999 the applicants brought proceedings against the Ministry for breach of contract and damages as they had not been paid in full for their services. On 6 December 1999 the Ministry was ordered to pay compensation. Enforcement proceedings were brought but the debt was never paid.

Iza - In July 1998, the director signed a building repair contract with a State school. The Ministry of Education was to transfer money into the applicant company’s account in payment. The applicants subsequently received a tax bill based on the total income from the contract but had only received part payment from the Ministry. The applicant company complained that it had difficulty carrying on their business activities while this debt remained unpaid.

The company successfully sued the Ministry of Education in May 2001 but orders to pay the debt were never enforced. When the company requested the initiation of criminal proceedings, the Prosecutor ruled that nobody could be held criminally liable since the delays were due to lack of finances in the State budget.

The applicant companies complained that the State authorities failed to execute judgments in their favour and that they had had no effective remedy. The also submitted that the non-payment of the judgment debt had deprived them of their property. They relied on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), and in the case of Amat-G, Article 17 (prohibition of abuse of rights).
The Court considered that only the applicant companies were directly affected by the events at issue and therefore that only their complaints were admissible. It rejected Amat-G’s complaints under Article 6 § 1 in respect of the judicial proceedings of 2002 and its complaints under Article 17.

The Court noted that there was a persistent problem of non-enforcement of final judgments delivered against State institutions which was recognised by the authorities. The Court found that the Georgian authorities, by failing for five years and eight months in the case of Amat-G and for over four years in the case of Iza, to execute judgments, had deprived the provisions of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of all useful effect.

The Court noted that the remedy open to the applicants of taking out criminal proceedings against the Enforcement Agent was of little value since the enforcement of judgments was dependent on budgetary considerations rather than the agent’s conduct. It therefore concluded that the applicant company did not have an effective remedy.

Furthermore, the Court found the fact that the applicant companies were unable to have final judgments in their favour enforced constituted an interference with their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.

The Court held therefore that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1, Article 13 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

It awarded:

Amat-G - EUR 200,000 for pecuniary damage and EUR 2000 for costs and expenses;

Iza - EUR 10,000 for pecuniary damage, EUR 1,000 for non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,050 for costs and expenses. (The judgments are available only in English.)
 

For more information see:  www.coe.int / www.coe.ge

 

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