High Court Fees Denying Albanians Access to Justice

Filed under: Lajme te reja,Opinione |

A recent motion filed by a group of Albanian lawyers with the Human Right Court in Strasbourg, is seeking to challenge level of Albania’s court fees.
Besar Likmeta Tirana

European Human Rights Court in Strasburg | Photo courtesy of the Council of Europe
The case, which has been filed on behalf of local unemployed man, Renaldo Bregu, on August 24, argues that the court fees applied by local courts in Albania is too high for him to afford on unemployment benefits and denies him access to the justice system.

“With the court stamp fee at 12,000 lek (€86) and monthly unemployment benefits at 6500 lek (€47), roughly 140,000 Albanians are denied access to the justice system,” Andi Kananaj, a lawyer with the Res Publica legal centre in Tirana which filed the appeal on behalf of Bregu, said.

According to Albania’s Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, there are approximately 140,000 unemployed people in the country, representing 13.3 per cent of the total working population. However, many international organizations that monitor Albania’s economy, such as the IMF and World Bank, put the real figure at close to 30 per cent.

Bregu’s appeal to the human rights court comes after in February 2010, Tirana’s district court, dismissed a case that Bregu had brought against the Ministry of Labour, challenging the low level of the social security that he had received in proportion to his contributions, together with the fact that this benefit is only payable for a period of 12 months.

The local court dismissed Bregu’s case after the unemployed man was unable to pay for the court stamp fee.

According to a joint a decision from the Ministers of Finance and Justice in March 2010, claims cannot be admitted for examination by the competent court unless the claimant has paid a court stamp duty of 12,000 lek (€86), a sum that roughly amounts to two months’ of unemployment benefit.

Because of the high court fee, Bregu’s lawyers argue in their appeal with the Strasburg court that their client’s right of access to court was violated and claim Albania is in breach of Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention, which provides for the right to a fair trail.

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