Case of Electronservice-Nord SA. Why was state convicted by ECHR?

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) passed its judgment in the case of Electronservice-Nord SA v. Moldova, by which the state was obliged to pay €51,500 to the applicant. The applicant’s lawyer Inna Soțchi said the Court’s judgment comes after the Chisinau City Appeals Court accepted an appeal two years after the judgment that was favorable to the complaining company became final. The ECHR held that Moldova violated the plaintiff’s rights to a fair trial and to the protection of property.

In a news conference at IPN, Inna Soțchi, who heads the law firm “Bivol Soțchi & Partners”, said that in 1999 the company, based on a privatization certificate, obtained the right to ownership over a number of facilities situated in Edineț town.

The company asked the local cadastral office to register these properties, but this refused for the reason that it could not identify the given facilities. The company filed a preliminary application and then went to court and asked that the state institution should be obliged to register its right to ownership over those facilities. In 2009, the company obtained a favorable decision by which the state-owned institution “Cadastru” was obliged to register the ownership right. The local office appealed against the Edineț Court’s decision, but the Bălți Appeals Court rejected the appeal.

According to the lawyer, “Cadastru” filed an appeal, making reference to a Government decision and arguing that the courts of law, when they examined the case, didn’t take this decision into account. The Bălți Appeals Court rejected the appeal, explaining that the decision cannot be considered a new act as it took effect before the case started to be examined.

The cadastral office challenged this decision in the Supreme Court of Justice and asked to transfer the case from the Bălți Appeals Court to the Chisinau Appeals Court, arguing the Bălți Appeals Court was somehow biased as it pronounced earlier in a number of cases that involved ElectronService-Nord SA. The Supreme Court of Justice allowed the appeal, annulled the decision to reject the appeal and accepted the application to transfer the case. This way, the Chisinau City Appeals Court declared the appeal admissible, noting that Government decision of 2005 was pertinent, while the courts of law ignored it. It quashed the irrevocable decisions that were favorable to ElectronService-Nord SA and sent the case back for reexamination.

The company went to the ECHR after the appeal was declared admissible, but continued the trial. After being sent back for review, the Edineț Court accepted again the company’s claim and obliged the cadastral office to register the ownership right. Meanwhile, the office accepted to register the facilities, except for those that were situated in its vicinity.

The office appealed against the decision made by the first court and the Bălți Appeals Court rejected the complaining compact’s suit, saying the preliminary procedure wasn’t respected even if the materials of the case include the preliminary application and the response to it. The Supreme Court of Justice upheld the decision of the Bălți Appeals Court. As a result, the ECHR held that the company’s right to the security of juridical relations was violated. The lawyer said she presented to the Court documents showing that the company owns goods that could not be registered and that a part of them were destroyed while the building of the cadastral office was repaired and presented evaluations of the losses sustained in the period during which the properties could not be used.

“We are glad to have such a judgment in favor of our client. Regrettably, we ascertain that such situations are often in the Republic of Moldova. During the examination of the case in national courts, I quoted more than ten cases in which the Republic of Moldova was convicted by the ECHR according to the same criterion – appeals allowed groundlessly. But the Chisinau Appeals Court didn’t take these arguments into account and accepted the appeal that was lodged out of time and even in the absence of any reason,” stated Inna Soțchi.

The news conference titled “Case of ElectronService-Nord SA v. Moldova from the angle of right to a fair trial. Why was the Republic of Moldova convicted by ECHR and who answers for this?” forms part of the series of conferences held in the framework of IPN’s project “Injustice Revealed through Multimedia”. The project’s partner is the Lawyers Union of Moldova. IPN Agency does not assume the right to decide if the organizers of news conferences are right in the cases about which they will speak as this is the exclusive prerogative of justice, but the exaggeratedly long examination period of these cases, which is much longer than the law allows, can be considered an act of evident unfairness and injustice. IPN News Agency does not bear responsibility for the public statements made in the public sphere by the organizers of news conferences.

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