ECHR decision: Slovenia fully and properly executes the judgement in Ališić case
In its decision, delivered today, the ECtHR stated that Slovenia fully complies with the obligations imposed by the judgement. The ECtHR thoroughly reviewed the Slovenian legal basis and the verification scheme set up by Slovenia, comparing the procedure and conditions for the repayment of old foreign-currency deposits with the requirements of the judgement. The implementation was assessed using the criteria set out in the provisions of the judgement and the ECtHR's case-law. The ECtHR applied the principles of subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation which allows countries executing international courts’ judgements a certain room for manoeuvre to effectively remedy the violations of human rights. On the basis of this analysis and the above mentioned principles, the ECtHR held that Slovenia has fully and properly executed the judgement in the Ališić case, touching in particular on the interest rates provided by the Slovenian act. Although these are inferior to those applied to Slovenian savers, the Court emphasised that they are set correctly. Stating that Mr. Hodžić has the possibility of claiming the repayment of his foreign-currency deposit with the Succession Fund of the Republic of Slovenia, the ECtHR declared his application inadmissible. Dr Ana Polak Petrič, High Representative for Succession Issues of the Republic of Slovenia: "With its decision in the Hodžić case, the ECtHR welcomed the provided redress of violation of the right to property for savers of LB branches in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, we wish to stress that the question of the division of guarantees for foreign currency deposits in SFRY banks remains outstanding and the successor states are yet to find common ground on the basis of the Agreement on Succession Issues. Slovenia will also continue to devote all efforts to achieve a favourable outcome in the inter-state procedure against Croatia before the ECtHR related to LB claims towards Croatian companies." In the past, Slovenia was among countries with a high number of cases pending before the ECtHR. In 2016, considerable progress was already made concerning the execution of judgements, particularly as to the remedy of systemic shortcomings like in the cases of Kurić ("the erased") and Lukenda (court backlogs). Slovenia expects that the positive assessment in today's decision will lead to “strike out” of several hundred applications that have been adjourned following the Ališić pilot case. This will further improve the reputation of Slovenia as a credible partner in the international community. Background In July 2014, the Grand Chamber delivered a pilot judgement in the Ališić case concerning a case brought before the ECtHR in 2005 against all SFRY successor states by three applicants alleging their inability to recover their foreign-currency savings deposited with the former LB Sarajevo branch and the Tuzla branch of Investbanka from Belgrade. The Grand Chamber considered the case only in terms of human rights violations and not in terms of the responsibility to provide guarantees for foreign-currency deposits in accordance with the Agreement on Succession Issues, and it held that Slovenia and Serbia violated the applicants' right to the protection of property and the right to an effective remedy (as well as of all others in their position). The ECtHR decided that Slovenia and Serbia must adopt necessary measures to allow the applicants and all others in their position to recover their old foreign-currency savings under the same conditions as the savers who had such savings reimbursed in domestic branches of the banks. Until the final decision on the execution of the pilot judgement, the examination of similar cases had been adjourned. Although it disagrees with the judgement claiming it imposes a disproportionate financial burden on Slovenia compared to other successor states, Slovenia respects the decision of the ECtHR and duly fulfils its obligations. By adopting the Act Regulating the Enforcement of the ECtHR Judgement in Case of Ališić in 2015, Slovenia respected the deadline set by the ECtHR and established, in due time, the legal basis for the verification and the repayment of old foreign-currency deposits to savers of LB Zagreb Main Branch and the former Sarajevo Main Branch. In accordance with the act, the verification procedures are managed by the Succession Fund of the Republic of Slovenia which started to process the received verification claims for the repayment of deposits in December 2015 (the submission of claims started as of 1 December 2015), and the claims may be filed until 31 December 2017. The processing of claims of the Zagreb branch savers started immediately, while the claims of the former Sarajevo branch savers started only in October 2016 due to difficulties in accessing documents from the archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thus far, the Fund has received over 30,700 claims for the verification of unpaid deposits; over 16,100 refer to the Zagreb Main Branch, and over 14,600 to the Sarajevo Main Branch. To this day, over 19,600 final decisions have been issued, and 15,800 beneficiaries have been paid a total of over EUR 164,7 million; over EUR 128,2 million were reimbursed to the 12,400 beneficiaries of the Zagreb branch, and over EUR 36,5 million to the 3,400 beneficiaries of the Sarajevo branch. Appeals against the Fund’s informative calculations have been filed in as little as 0.8% of cases.