The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Portuguese State to pay €11,830 to a landscape architect over “moral damages” resulting from a case that has taken over 11 years to resolve. But it hasn’t ruled in favour of the claim, which was actually seeking over almost €180,000 in unpaid salaries and a further €15,000 for the irritation of time-consuming litigation.
Thus it may be something of a Pyrrhic victory for Rui Pedro Valada Matos. Público, which carries the story today, does not elaborate. Perhaps the article is more of a cautionary tale to anyone considering suing a public entity.
In this case, Matos was taking on Lisbon Câmara. He had been employed as a trainee in the town hall’s waste department since 1990.
By 1998 he had seen his yearly contracts renewed every time, and was contracted to develop a four-year project, at the end of which his department was “extinguished” and Matos found himself out of a job.
In 2003 – the year after he was made redundant – Matos launched into his protracted litigation which took no less than nine years to even reach a conclusion, which the Câmara then appealed.
The case was was then referred to the administrative tribunal of the south which overturned the Câmara’s appeal, and once again ruled in favour of the architect.
But no money appears to have been forthcoming.
Matos, no doubt in desperation, took his case to the ECHR – which has now very possibly left him wondering why he bothered.