Guillemin v. France (105/1995/611/699) 21 February 1997: length of proceedings to challenge expropriation and to secure compensation,

France - length of proceedings to challenge expropriation and to secure compensation, and expropriating town council's failure to carry out judicial decisions setting aside expropriation measures

I. Article 6 1 of the Convention

A. Period to be taken into consideration

Starting-point: lodging of application to set aside acts prior to expropriation.

End: compensation proceedings still pending.

Total: at time of adoption of judgment more than fourteen years.

B. Reasonableness of length of proceedings

Expropriation proceedings relatively complex, coming under jurisdiction of two sets of courts, administrative and ordinary - furthermore, as in present case, an administrative court might have to rule on lawfulness of initial stage of proceedings at same time as an ordinary court had to deal with consequences of expropriation order whose lawfulness had been challenged in the other court - such a situation might give rise to conflicting decisions.

In addition to delays due to organisational difficulties, proceedings had lasted nearly three years in Versailles Administrative Court and then three years and nearly three months in Conseil d'Etat - compensation proceedings still pending.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

II. Article 1 of Protocol No. 1

B. Merits of the complaint

Common ground that applicant had been deprived of possessions within meaning of second sentence of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and that expropriation of property had not been carried out in manner laid down in domestic law.

Applicant permanently deprived of chance of regaining possession of her land - her only course had been to seek compensation.

Compensation for loss sustained could only constitute adequate reparation where it also took into account damage arising from length of deprivation - it had moreover to be paid within a reasonable time - compensation had not to date begun to be paid.

Potentially large sum that might be awarded at end of pending proceedings did not offset previously noted failure to pay compensation and could not be decisive in view of length of all the proceedings already instituted by applicant.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

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