Interview with the General State Advocate: 89 property related cases in Strasbourg, total bill 671.4 million euros
Interviewed for Albanian Free Press by Eglantina Nasi
Mrs. Hicka, what is Albania’s current situation in relation to international arbitrage? What cases are pending for the moment and what are you projecting for them?
As part of the international business law, international arbitrage, as an alternative method of settling disputes, has seen its own intricacies. As far as the cases sent for international arbitrage and our projection on their outcome are concerned, I am unable to provide you any information, given that this process is highly confidential.
As far as property related cases are concerned, what is their current status while they’re being handled by the Court of Strasbourg? How many cases have been truly opened and what is their cost in case of loss?
The European Court of Human Rights has received a total of 89 cases. We have been informed on the claims of the plaintiffs and we have presented our comments on their claims. The court is expected to come out with a decision on these cases. The estimated figure for these cases is around 671.415.787 euros. All of these cases refer to the new law relating to the compensation of former owners.
Can you provide a concrete figure that the state is obliged to pay to former owners who have won so far in Strasbourg?
The Albanian state is engaged in delivering its obligations stemming from the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, including property related cases. Property related cases which already have a value attached to them, have been executed. Here I can mention cases such as “Rista vs.Albania” (2016), where the bill amounted to 10.701.300 euros, “Karagjozi vs. Albania” (2016) amounting to 5.919.850 euros, “Halimi vs. Albania” (2016) amounting to 755.150 euros and “Aliçka and Vasha vs. Albania” (2016) amounting to 801.300 euros, “Delvina” (2013) amounting to 2.045.744 euros, “Sharra” (2015) amounting to 5.384.950 euros, etc.
Meanwhile, how many property related cases are pending there and how are they expected to be handled, based on the new law on properties, the amendments of which even reached the Constitutional Court?
As we explained above, we’re expecting a ruling for the 89 cases. We have requested for them to be examined with the new law on properties, as an efficient mechanism of finding a final solution about the issue of properties.
What about Albanian courts? In how many property related cases are you intervening as an institution? Can you mention some of the most important ones and how have they been settled? What was their cost?
In compliance with the 2017 law, State’s Advocacy has followed up all the cases being handled by the country’s courts. We are not a case handling system.
The state’s advocacy has drafted and filed 87 plaints at the court, based on the materials arrived from the Task-Force, established in compliance Guideline No. 70 of the Prime Minister, dating 13.02.2014. These plaints are being processed and examined by the court. Following the analysis of this institution for 2016, we need to stress the fact that the total value of cases being tried in the country in 2016 is nearly 12 billion lek or 1 billion USD. 93% of these cases have been won by the Albanian state. Compared to 2013, only 30% of the cases were won by the state. This percentage of cases that have been won has been on the rise, reaching a record value of 93%.
“Threat from arbitrage cases? They will not necessarily be lost”
In a letter published a few days ago on the media, the ministry of Justice (on 10 April 2017) warned the government that if the 4 cases which are being handled by the arbitrage, are lost, they could cost 2 billion euros. How true is this claim? Is there a real threat on this?
“First of all, I’m sorry that confidential information such as this one is circulating on the media. Secondly, the values of indemnification requested in the forums of international arbitrage have always been high for a very simple reason: most cases end up in the arbitrage because the contractual relation in question has reached a “death” point and if the plaintiff is seeking financial indemnity for the entire investment, then the value of this indemnity will be high. But, there are also cases when the plaintiff requests the enforcement of the contract/contractual obligations, seeking indemnities as an alternative. These cases are also part of the cases mentioned in the document of the Ministry of Justice. Regarding the existence of risks from the payment of financial indemnities, it goes without saying that however high the claims of the plaintiff are, they are not necessarily based on evidence and law and as a result, they are not necessarily materialized in a decision of the court of arbitrage. However, given that the cases mentioned above in the Ministry of Justice’s document are under way, it is impossible to make an evaluation today on the possibility or likelihood of the decision that international arbitrage courts will take in settling disputes”.