ECHR ruling dated September 6, 2018 in the case of Dimitar Yordanov (Bulgaria) (application No. 3401/09).
In 2009, the complainant was assisted in preparing an application. Subsequently, application was communicated to Bulgaria.
In the case, the applicant's application of a violation of the procedure for the expropriation of his property, which was in the zone of daily industrial explosions, is being appealed. The case has violated the requirements of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The case did not violate the requirements of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant owned a part of the land plot and buildings located on them, including his own house, in the area where the authorities decided to create and conduct the open-pit mining of a coal mine near the applicant's village. In the 1990s, the procedure for expropriation of property began, which affected many owners, including the applicant, and was sent to resettlement of residents from the area to ensure the functioning of the mine. After more than two years of waiting for the property to be provided in return for the seized, the applicant demanded to cancel the act of seizing his property, to which he had the right, and continued to live in his house. Over time, coal mining expanded, and at some point industrial explosions were carried out 160-180 meters from the applicant's house, despite the statutory requirement to maintain a 500-meter “exclusion zone” between non-industrial buildings, such as residential buildings, and mining projects.
The applicant left his home in 1997 when his family decided that it was not safe to continue living in the house because of cracks in the walls, the collapse of the courtyards and the daily vibration of the building. The applicant unsuccessfully applied to the Bulgarian authorities for compensation for the damage. Bulgarian courts found that daily explosions in the immediate vicinity of the applicant’s house were contrary to Bulgarian law. However, they were unable to establish a causal link between the explosions and the damage caused to the applicant’s house, because due to the time it took and as a result of the loss of some documents, it was impossible to determine the distance between the applicant’s house and the area where the explosions were carried out in 1997, when the applicant left his home.
QUESTIONS OF RIGHT
The Bulgarian authorities did not demonstrate that they intended to fulfill their legal obligations under the property expropriation procedure. Therefore, the applicant cannot be blamed for the fact that the expropriation procedure was unsuccessful. The mine was operated by a company that was wholly owned by the state. The company was engaged in not just ordinary business, but worked in an area that was strictly regulated by law and provided for compliance with environmental protection requirements and employee welfare. It is important that the decision to establish the mine was made by the state, which also expropriated a number of private property in the surrounding area to allow the mine to function. Thus, the company was a tool for the state to carry out its activities. When the authorities failed to carry out the procedure for the expropriation of the claimant’s property, as well as when they ensured the operation of the mine under effective state control, they were responsible for ensuring that the claimant’s property was in the dangerous zone of the environment, namely, in the zone of daily industrial explosions proximity to the applicant's home. This situation, which forced the applicant to leave his home, was state intervention in the applicant's right to respect for his "property". The explosions within the exclusion zone directly contradicted the laws of Bulgaria. Consequently, the interference with the applicant's right to respect for his property was not legal for the purposes of analysis under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.
The case was a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (adopted unanimously).
The European Court also unanimously found no violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, since the decisions of the Bulgarian courts, in particular concerning the conclusions appealed by the applicant regarding the existence of a causal link between the blasting operations at the mine and the applicant’s damage to the property, did not reach such a threshold. so arbitrary and manifestly unfounded that it equates with a denial of access to justice.
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 8,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.