We are representing a legal person (the client) before the European Court of Human Rights in proceedings against the Republic of Estonia. The basis of the claim is a breach of the right to proceedings within a reasonable time in regard to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and a breach of the right to receive fair and immediate compensation for expropriation in regard to Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the Convention.
Focus on fair compensation
Since 2004, the client has wished to receive fair compensation for the expropriation of its land by a city government. However, by 2019, it had still not received any compensation. Even after 15 years, which is too long for an expropriation procedure in a country where similar proceedings take about 2–3 years, the compensation that was offered cannot be considered fair, as it was unilaterally proposed by the city government expropriating the land and there was no review procedure possible in the Estonian courts regarding the fairness of the compensation.
The client did not receive immediate and fair compensation for the loss of its property, as the administrative body (a city government) was able to prolong the proceedings and exhaust the client. The city government was able to prolong the proceedings and continuously set prices that were the cheapest, as this was most suitable and economically beneficial for the city government, while all the client could do was appeal against the orders that were given. Estonian procedural legislation does not let domestic courts verify whether the compensation offered by administrative bodies is actually fair.
As a result of five proceedings initiated against the five consecutive orders issued by the city government, the Estonian courts annulled all five orders fixing the amount of compensation and required the city government to determine the amount of fair compensation. The sixth order left the amount of compensation indicated in the fifth order unchanged. However, during the proceedings initiated against the sixth order, the national court deemed the amount of compensation to be fair. Therefore, the judgements of the national courts were inconsistent and contradictory.
This is an exceptional case, as the European Court of Human Rights rarely starts proceedings based on claims filed against Estonia. On the basis of the claim filed by our team on behalf of the client in the second half of 2019, the European Court of Human Rights started proceedings against the Republic of Estonia. Currently, we are at a point in proceedings where the parties have filed all their statements. The European Court of Human Rights has not yet delivered its judgement.
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