Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
28.01.2014

Facts

The applicant, Mr. Veiss, tried to have his paternity established by the court. On 8 February 2007 he lodged a claim with the district court. After three court hearings in September 2007 the court dismissed his application. After several appeals in 2012 the case was heard by the Senate of the Supreme Court which delivered the final decision in the case by stating that Mr. Veiss’ claim should not be granted as it would be contrary to the child’s interests. In March 2013 Mr. Veiss eventually filed for repenting of the case based on “newly discovered circumstances”. After an appeal the proceedings were renewed and case sent to the district court for fresh examination.  At the time of the judgment of the Court this case was still pending before the national courts. 

Complaint

Mr Veiss complained that the length of the civil proceedings had been excessive in violation of his right to fair trial. 

Court's ruling

The Court pointed that all cases must be decided in reasonable time.  The reasonableness of the length of the proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case including the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the relevant authorities, and what was at stake for the applicant in the dispute. The “reasonable time” requirement will be violated only the delays are caused by the action of the state. The court noted that the length of trial to be taken into account was five years three months and eight days. The Court agreed that the particular case was legally complex, but it also found the applicant’s recognition as a father required special diligence and urgency in handling the case. As the Court was of the opinion that no delays in the examination of the particular case were attributable to the Mr. Veiss’ conduct, the Court ruled that his right to a hearing within a reasonable time had been violated.