Bulgaria Ordered to Pay Compensation to Man Overcharged in Court Fee
General view of the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg, France, 11 January 2011. Photo by EPA/BGNES
Nikolay Dimitrov from Silistra is the first Bulgarian to have won a case against the state at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in 2013.
Dimitrov will be paid a compensation of EUR 2500 for being overcharged with a court fee.
This is the second case won by Dimitrov against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Television (BNT).
In 2006, the Silistra District Court sentenced Nikolay Dimitrov to 5 years of imprisonment for VAT fraud.
A court of higher instance, however, revoked the sentence and returned the case for further investigation.
During the investigation, the charges were dropped over the lack of evidence and the prosecuting authority terminated the case.
Dimitrov filed a claim seeking a compensation of BGN 60 000 for the 3 months he spent in custody, the unjust verdict, and the moral damage sustained.
The compensation was subsequently reduced to BGN 40 000 and the court of third instance, the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS), approved a sum of BGN 9000.
VKS, however, ruled that Dimitrov had to pay a court fee of BGN 2480 for the rejected part of the claim worth BGN 31 000.
Dimitrov approached the ECtHR, complaining that the court fee was too high, amounting to 1/3 of his compensation, and it was restricted access to justice.
The European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that VKS had had no other means of determining the amount of the court fee and it had followed the legal provisions that were in force at that point.
The Strasbourg-based court noted that court fees were used to maintain the work of the judiciary and to prevent groundless prosecution.
At the same time, the Court ruled that the court fee had been imposed in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
As a result, Bulgaria will have to pay a compensation of EUR 2500 for breaching Dimitrov's right to a fair trial.
A year ago, the man filed another claim against the state over the inadequate activities of the Bulgarian judiciary in a trial for a crime in which he had been an injured party.
The resident of the northeastern city of Silistra says that he writes his complaints on his own, without the assistance of a lawyer, and sends them by posts.
He assures that the cost of initiating proceedings at the European Court of Human Rights amounts to nothing but the postal expenses but it also takes time and patience.
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