Şamat v. Turkey: ECtHR, res judicata, and the reopening of proceedings
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered yesterday its judgment in Şamat v. Turkey, where it found a violation of the right to a fair hearing in Article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The case concerned the applicant’s claim that the principle of legal certainty was infringed by Turkish authorities when they started proceedings to declare that the applicant’s land was within the boundaries of a protected forest, even though previously, in 1979, a judicial decision had found that the plot fell outside the forest’s boundaries.
The ECtHR supported the applicants’ argument that the status of the land had been conclusively determined in the judicial decision of 1979 and that such decision had the effect of res judicata. According to the Strasbourg-based Court, the approach of the national authorities in limiting the force of res judicata vis-à-vis prescription periods was not compatible with the principles of the rule of law and legal certainty of Article 6 ECHR, because the reopening of proceedings was not aimed at correcting a ‘fundamental defect’ or a case of ‘miscarriage of justice’.
Click here to read the judgment.