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Ask Alice H Your Own Question

Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2847
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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The country of Croatia has denied me my Human Rights by

Customer Question

The country of Croatia has denied me my Human Rights by refusing to compensate for property in Zagreb (on a bogus technicality). The properties were originally nationalised by the former Jugoslavija. Since 2002 there were 3 court hearings, the last being the highest court in the land and all rulings were against me. Finally I was given the opportunity to appeal to the Croatian court of human rights and they too went with the former rulings and stated that my rights were not compromised. I wish to take the matter to Strasbourg via the ECHR but do not know who to contact and how to present a personal case for evaluation. I also do not know if repatriation of property 'wrongly taken', can be linked to my human rights being compromised and dealt by this court or is it all about (asylum seekers, prisoners right to vote, gay rights, discrimination, maltreatment of women/children and the minimum wage) . Out of these discrimination plays a minor role. Sincerely XXXXX XXXXX

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.

Alex Hughes :

My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

Alex Hughes :

You can certainly take a case to the ECtHR if you have exhausted all the avenues in Croatia and there is a violation of your treaty rights.

Alex Hughes :

Article 8 right to private and family life and Article 1, Protocol 1 right to peaceful enjoyment of your property appear to be most relevant in your case.

Alex Hughes :

When you make an application to the ECHR you will be asked to complete one of the ECHR’s application forms. However, it is not necessary to fill out one of these forms to meet the six month rule. All you need to do is to get a letter to the court within the six months setting out:

1. Your details (name, address and nationality).
2. The country against which you are making your application.
3. The facts that have given rise to your application.
4. The article or articles of the Convention that you say have been breached.

You should send your letter to:

The Registrar
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg-Cedex
Fax: 00 33 3 88 41 27 30
Tel: 00 33 3 88 41 20 18

When it has received your letter the ECHR will send you one of its application forms to complete. If there is not enough space on the form you can set out your case in a longer document which you attach to the form. It is important that you submit your completed application form within any deadline set by the ECHR or, if no deadline is set, within a few weeks of receiving it. If you do not submit the form speedily you run the risk that the ECHR will decide that you have not met the six month deadline. If you cannot meet any deadline that is set you should contact the ECHR and try to agree an extended deadline.

Once the ECHR has acknowledged receipt of your application form it may be some time (months if not years) before you hear anything further.

At this stage the ECHR may rule your application inadmissible. The ECHR will not give reasons and there is no right of appeal. If your application is ruled inadmissible you will not be able to proceed with it.

If it is not ruled inadmissible at this stage, your application will be allocated to one of the ECHR’s four sections. A panel of seven judges from that section will deal with the case. Very significant cases may be dealt with by the ECHR’s Grand Chamber. These cases are considered by a panel of seventeen judges. A case could be transferred to the Grand Chamber at any stage in the proceedings.

Your application will also be communicated to the Government at this stage, that is, the Government will be informed that you have made an application and will be invited to respond. You will be given an opportunity to respond to the Government’s observations and there may be further exchanges of written representations.

The ECHR will then decide whether your application is admissible. It can rule your application inadmissible if you have failed to meet one of the three requirements set out above or if the ECHR considers that it is ‘manifestly ill-founded’, in other words, that it is not arguable. If the ECHR finds your application inadmissible at this stage it will give reasons, but there is no right of appeal.

If the ECHR finds your application admissible it will then go on to decide whether there has been a breach of the Convention. The ECHR usually refers to this as considering the merits of the application. At this point you have the right to put in a claim for compensation. The ECHR calls this ‘just satisfaction’. It should include a claim for legal expenses if you have incurred any. Your claim for just satisfaction should be sent to the ECHR within two months of the ECHR finding your application admissible. Both sides may make further representations before the ECHR decides on the merits of the application.

When the ECHR has made its decision on the merits of your application, you will be notified of the date on which its judgment will be made public. The judgment will be published on the ECHR’s website on that day. If the ECHR finds that there has been a breach of your rights it may award you compensation although it does not always do so on the basis that its finding that there has been a breach of your rights is enough.

Once a section of the ECHR has made a final decision on the merits of an application, either party, the Government or the Applicant, can ask to have the application referred to the Grand Chamber. This is the only form of appeal that the ECHR’s rules allow for. The Grand Chamber only rarely agrees to a referral. There is no appeal from a final decision made by the Grand Chamber.


The ECHR deals with most cases without holding a hearing; it reaches its decisions on the basis of written representations made by the parties. When the ECHR does decide to hold a hearing this will usually take place before the ECHR has decided on the admissibility of the application, although it may also hold a hearing after an application has been found admissible if it has not already held one.

Legal representation

Although you can make an application to the ECHR yourself, it would be wise to get a lawyer experienced in ECHR proceedings to represent you. Most cases are ruled inadmissible at an early stage and are not communicated to the Government. Having a lawyer present your arguments for you may help you get over this hurdle.

If the ECHR decides to hold a hearing after it has found your application admissible, the ECHR rules require you to be represented by a lawyer at that hearing unless the ECHR allows otherwise.

Legal Aid

The ECHR has a system of legal aid although the payments which a lawyer receives under the scheme are very low. You can apply for legal aid once your application has been communicated to the Government. It is particularly useful to have legal aid if the ECHR holds a hearing on your case, as legal aid will pay the cost of your and your lawyer’s trip to Strasbourg.
If you are not eligible for legal aid, your lawyer may agree to represent you under a conditional fee agreement, that is, on the basis that they will only get paid if you win your case and get your legal costs paid by the Government. However, as very few applications to the ECHR are successful, your lawyer may be reluctant to take this risk. If you lose your case you will not be ordered to pay the Government’s legal costs.

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