The Supreme Court upholds the judgment in the case regarding claim for compensation in relation to plot alienated for needs of airport “Rīga”

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24 May 2017

On 24 May, the Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of 16 April 2015 of the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court which partly satisfied the claim against the Republic of Latvia in person of the Ministry of Transport with the third party SJSC “Starptautiskā lidosta Rīga”” (International Airport “Riga”) regarding recovery of compensation and default interest for the plot of landof 12.7 hectares, which was alienated from the claimant for needs of airport “Riga”. The court recovered for the claimant compensation in amount of 328 098,22 EUR, lawful interest, for the period between 1 March 1997 and 1 June 2015, in amount of 328 098,22 EUR, and court costs in amount of 6634,93 EUR, making in total 662 831,37 EUR. The judgment of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed.

The Supreme Court examined the case under cassation procedure in connection with the cassation appeal of the Ministry of Justice against the judgment of appellate court. The Supreme Court found that there is no reason to annul the contested judgment, as the Court findings correspond to the factual circumstances of the case. Appellate court determining the just compensation, has taken into account the conclusions presented in the judgment of 25 October 2012 of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in case “Vistins and Perepjolkins v. Latvia”, thus taking into account the instructions presented in the judgement of 5 June 2013 of the Senate of the Supreme Court.

Previously the cassation court examined the case in 2013 which abolished the judgement of 20 May 2010 of the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court and transferred the case for new examination under appellate procedure.  The cassation instance court recognized that at the moment, when the case was examined by the appellate instance court, the judgement of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in case “Vistins and Perepjolkins v. Latvia” was not rendered yet. The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights included extensive assessment of property and land reform in Latvia and property rights to particular plot restored to single individuals. The cassation instance court recognized that conclusions presented in the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in case “Vistins and Perepjolkins v. Latvia” regarding criteria of amount of just compensation and assessment of proportionality, which are applicable in two similar disputes, provide ground to assess application of these conclusions also when reviewing the claim filed by the plaintiff.  

In August 1994, the plaintiff corroborated property right to real estate consisting of two plots of land of total area of 20.22 ha, in land book department of Riga city Marupe parish. On 5 February 1997, the Saeima (Parliament) of the Republic of Latvia adopted the law “On alienation of land properties for needs of the State at the territory of the State Airport Company “Rīga””, which envisaged to alienate land properties of former owners and their heirs of total area of 242.6467 ha. Real property of 12.6573 ha belonging to the plaintiff was included in the list of lands to be alienated and reimbursement for the land to be alienated was unilaterally determined in amount of 1811.26 LVL. When determining this amount of compensation, amendments of 19 December 1996 to the decision by the Supreme Council “On forced alienation of real property for needs of the state or the public” of 15 December 1992 were applied. Item 2 Part 2 of these amendments states that, when alienating real estate necessary for needs of the state or public, and former owner’s title to real property was restored during land reform, amount of compensation must be determined in monetary expression, but it must not exceed estimation of real property in a land book or cadastral documents compiled before 22 June 1940 and in which estimation of a real property is indicated. The plaintiff believes that the State infringed her property rights by not paying just compensation for alienated real property, acting inconsistently and violating principle of legal certainty.  The claimant, when specifying amount of the claim in the appellate instance court, asked the court to recover compensation in amount of LVL 232 400, lawful interest for period between 1 March 1997 and 1 March 2015 in amount of LVL 232 400 and damages caused by increase (inflation) in amount of LVL 71 811.60. The total amount of the claim requested reached 763 529.52 EUR (or LVL 536 611.60).

When hearing the case at the first instance, on 1 October 2008 Riga Regional Court rejected the claim.

 

Information prepared by Baiba Kataja, the Press Secretary of the Supreme Court

Tel.: +371 67020396; e-mail: baiba.kataja@at.gov.lv