European court orders Slovenia to pay €85,000 to man who lost home over utility debt

A Grand Chamber hearing at the European Court of Human Rights [Photo : Sandro Weltin/©Council of Europe]

The ECHR said the Slovenian court had breached the European human rights convention by interfering with the "peaceful enjoyment" of someone's property. [ECHR]

Europe’s top human rights court ordered Slovenia yesterday (25 April) to pay €85,000 to a man whose family home was forcibly sold by a local court to repay a debt he owed to a state utility.

The European Court of Human Rights acted on a complaint filed by Zoran Vaskrsic in 2012 after his family was evicted from their home following its sale over the four-year-old debt, which originally amounted to 124 euros.

The ECHR said the Slovenian court had breached the European human rights convention by interfering with the “peaceful enjoyment” of someone’s property. It said the court had also failed to strike a “fair balance” between the general interest of the community and an individual’s fundamental rights.

Slovenia, a former Yugoslav republic that joined the European Union in 2004, has been penalised several times by European institutions over judicial irregularities, mainly the excessive lengths of some court cases that lasted several years.

The Slovenian Justice Ministry provided no immediate comment on the Vaskrsic case.

In other Eastern European countries as well, utilities use the services of private bailiffs who abuse procedures and often inflict huge fines on citizens, even in cases when the debt is minimal. Many similar cases are reported in Bulgaria.

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