ECtHR: excessive length of civil proceedings in Croatia breached right to a fair trial, with no effective remedy available
Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has rendered its judgment in Kirinčić and Others v. Croatia (application no. 31386/17), Marić v. Croatia (no. 9849/15), and in Glavinić and Marković v. Croatia (applications nos. 11388/15 and 25605/15), three cases concerning the excessive length of civil proceedings before Croatian courts, in which it was found that the rights to a fair trial (Article 6(1) ECHR) and to an effective remedy (Article 13 ECHR) were breached.
In Kirinčić and Others v. Croatia, the ECtHR concluded that civil proceedings over property rights of more than 15 years were contrary to the ‘reasonable time’ requirement under Article 6(1) ECHR. The Strasbourg-based court further declared that the applicants’ complaint before the Croatian Constitutional Court was not an effective remedy in the sense of Article 13 ECHR, because that court did not take into account the overall length of the proceedings.
Similarly, in Marić v. Croatia the ECtHR found that civil proceedings on compensation lasting more than four years were also contrary to Article 6(1) ECHR. Furthermore, the ECtHR concluded that the applicant was not obliged to use the remedies for protracted proceedings under the Croatian 2013 Courts Act because they were not effective, in particular because the acceleration mechanism for proceedings could only be applied once they had already become excessively long and because the compensatory mechanism had too many restrictions.
The same conclusion as regards the shortcomings of the 2013 Courts Act from the perspective of Article 13(1) ECHR was held in Glavinić and Marković v. Croatia, where the ECtHR also found more than twelve years for a civil procedure in a single level of jurisdiction, and of almost eight years for subsequent enforcement and insolvency-like proceedings, to breach Article 6(1) ECHR.