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Cretu v. Romania, application no. 32925/96, 9 July 2002

Facts: the applicants are Romanian nationals who brought a claim for the restitution of a plot of land that had been confiscated by the State in pursuant to a decree. The State sold the house to sitting tenants, even though the applicants had informed the latter of their claim for restitution. The State Court dismissed their application on the ground that the property had been duly nationalised.

Complaint: violation of Article 6 1 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention and a violation of article 1 (protection of property) of an infringement of their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.

Holding: the Court found that held that there had been a violation of Article 6 1 on the ground that the applicants had been denied a fair hearing and access to a court and that there had been a violation of article 1.

Reasoning: there had been a contravention of the principle of legal certainty and thereby a violation of the applicants' right to a fair hearing. As regards the breach of the applicants' right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions, the Court found that their right of property had been established by final, irreversible judgments and that the effect of the judgments of the Supreme Court of Justice had been to deprive them of their property. The requisite fair balance had been upset and that the applicants had borne and continued to bear an excessive and individual burden.

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