The facts of the case are as follows: The applicants are spouses whose daughter died in a road accident in 2004. Against the cause of the accident, criminal proceedings were instituted, in which the applicants, the spouse and the son of the deceased brought civil claims. The court found the perpetrator of the incident guilty and ordered him to pay damages to the plaintiffs. Execution papers have been issued, but they have failed to collect their claims due to the lack of funds available to the perpetrator. Thus, in 2005, the plaintiffs brought before the civil courts separate claims based on Art. 407, para. 1 of the Commercial Law against the Insurer of Third Party Liability Insurance. The claims of the husband and son of the deceased are respected in three instances. In their judgments, the courts find that the plaintiffs have the right to sue the insurer, even though they have already condemned the damage sufferer because they have failed to satisfy him.
In 2008 the Sofia City Court respected and asked the parents of the deceased. However, the decision was lifted by the Sofia Court of Appeal (CCA), which held that the applicants had already condemned the perpetrator on the same ground and dismissed the action as inadmissible. The applicants filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) does not allow a cassation appeal against CAC's decision, as it does not contradict its own practice. The court refers to two of its 2009 decisions, according to which the injured person can not sue the insurer if he has already reached a verdict against the cause. It points out that those decisions constitute a mandatory practice within the meaning of the new Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), contrary to what the appellants have in their cassation complaint, which is laid down in the repealed CPC.
Before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the complainants complained that the rejection of their claim as a result of the controversial practice of the SCC violated their right to a fair trial under Art. 6 of the Convention because of the principle of legal certainty.
The court finds that there is no violation of Art. 6 § 1 of the Convention. Firstly, the Court stated that different panels of the SCC had taken a contradictory decision on the claims of the applicants and the other victims of the incident, thus depriving the applicants of the possibility of engaging the liability of the insurer. Points out, however, that through Art. 292 of the new CPC, national legislation has provided a mechanism to overcome these contradictions. Pursuant to this mechanism, on 17 March 2010, shortly after the applicants' rejection of the petition, a panel of the SCC suggested to the general assembly an interpretative ruling on the issue.
The ECtHR accepts that the period between the occurrence of the controversial practice in 2006 and the initiation of the procedure for the adoption of an interpretative decision is not excessive, given that it coincided with the entry into force of a new CPC to which the SCC had to adapt. An interpretative decision was adopted on 6 June 2012, which led to the unification of practice. Finally, although the authorization given by the interpretative decision is in favor of the applicants, the ECtHR accepts the Government's argument that the requirement of legal certainty does not give rise to unambiguous case-law and that the decisions of the courts in the applicants' claim were not arbitrary .