EGMR: Action for recovery of possession of a former Uniate Church place of worship – Right of access to court was respected but length of proceedings was excessive

von Dr. Georg Neureither

The European Court of Human Rights delivered its Chamber judgment in the case of Greek-Catholic Parish of Lupeni and Others v. Romania (application no. 76943/11). The case concerned the restitution of places of worship belonging to the Greek-Catholic Church which were transferred to the Orthodox Church under the totalitarian regime, and more specifically the question of the application of a special law to determine the legal status of such property. The Court held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights as regards the right of access to a court and the question of legal certainty, a violation of Article 6 § 1 concerning the length of proceedings, and no violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 (right of access to a court).

The Court found in particular that the mere fact that the applicants considered the criterion laid down in a special law (Legislative Decree no. 126/1990) unfair was insufficient to render their right of access to a court ineffective. It further held that the Romanian courts had weighed up the interests at stake and delivered detailed judgments containing reasons. Reiterating the State’s role as the neutral and impartial organiser of the practice of religions, the Court noted that the Constitutional Court had emphasized the need to protect the freedom of religious communities and the freedom of others, while having due regard to the historical background to the case.

Principal facts

The applicants are the Greek-Catholic Parish of Lupeni, the Greek-Catholic Diocese of Lugoj and the Greek-Catholic Deanery of Lupeni, all of which are situated in Romania. They belong to the Eastern-Rite Catholic (Greek-Catholic or Uniate) Church.

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, legislation was passed in Romania (Legislative Decree No ...

Zum vollständigen Artikel

Cookies helfen bei der Bereitstellung unserer Dienste. Durch die Nutzung erklären Sie sich mit der Cookie-Setzung einverstanden. Mehr OK