Most ECHR rulings against Romania dealing with property restitution

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In 2008, most of the rulings handed down against Romania by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dealt with nationalized property restitution lawsuits.
Of the 189 ECHR resolutions condemning Romania, 52 found that in-kind property restitution or compensation to former landlords was impossible (the buildings previously nationalized without deeds had meanwhile been sold to the tenants or third parties); in 32 lawsuits the Court found the breach of the first article of Protocol 1 by unjustified interference with the ownership right, by breaches other than those arising from the sale of assets acknowledged as belonging to the plaintiffs to third parties, reads a report of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM).
Referring to the former 52 resolutions, CSM said that the reasons for Romania’s condemnation in these lawsuits have to do with legislative inconsistency and the flawed implementation of existing legislation on the return of nationalized property, with the ungrounded delay or hampering of the restitution or the grant of compensation.
„Like in the lawsuits ‘Strain and others vs. the state of Romania’ and ‘Paduraru vs. the state of Romania’, in these cases, third parties acquired the property under litigation before the final confirmation – with retroactive effect – of the claimants’ ownership right over these assets, although the claimants had been recognized as legal owners, given the abusive character of nationalization.
The Court took into account that by the sale of the property to the tenants, the legal owners were prevented from exerting their ownership right and they were not given any compensation for this deprivation,’ notes the report.
According to CSM, ECHR remarked that although under the effect of Law No. 247/2005, the persons who are in the situation of the claimants are entitled to indemnity equal to the market value of the asset that cannot be returned in kind, granted in the form of securities with the Proprietatea Fund, the latter does not operate in a manner capable of securing the effective grant of compensation.
„In conclusion, the Court held that the claimants’ deprivation of their assets, combined with the total absence of compensation for several years, have resulted in disproportionate and excessive loss incompatible with the right to property observance,’ mentioned the Council.
In 2008, Romania was the third-ranked state by the number of cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights, with a total of 8,900 lawsuits (9.1 pct) of the total number of registered files, after Russia with 28 pct (27,250 cases) and Turkey with 11.4 pct (11,100 cases).
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