Molla Sali v. Greece: a pyrrhic victory following just satisfaction judgment? 

By Adiba Firmansyah, LLB graduate from Middlesex University Dubai, soon to start as an LLM student at King’s College London

In its principal judgment in Molla Sali v. Greece, delivered on 19 December 2018, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 14 ECHR in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The case concerns a complaint by Ms Molla Sali, a widow to a Greek national from the Muslim minority, about the application of Sharia law to an inheritance dispute regarding her husband’s Greek and Turkish properties (a greater analysis of the merits of this case can be found here). The husband’s initial wish, expressed in a will drawn up in accordance with Greek civil law, to bequeath the whole of his estate to his wife (the applicant). However, the Greek courts considered that the will was devoid of effect and instead applied principles from Muslim inheritance law which, in Greece, applied specifically to Greeks of Muslim faith. The applicant was therefore deprived of 3/4 of her inheritance as a result, and the deceased husband’s sisters were subsequently recognised as joint beneficiaries.

The Court reserved the issue of just satisfaction under Article 41 to be decided at a later stage. In its just satisfaction judgment delivered on 8 June 2020, the Court held that it would be appropriate redress for the violations of the applicant’s rights if measures were taken by Greece so as to ensure that she retained the property left to her in Greece – but not in Turkey. It also held that if these measures are not taken within one year, Greece must pay the applicant pecuniary damages.

This judgment should be seen against the backdrop of the allocation of just satisfaction by the Court which has become increasingly controversial. As Abdelgawad notes, ‘Article 41 is probably one of the provisions which have raised the most important difficulties to judges over the years’. Given that the issue of just satisfaction is usually decided with scant legal reasoning and with only occasional allusions to equity and necessity as the foundational principles for the determination of compensation, the Molla Sali case therefore provided an opportunity for the Court to discuss the application of Article 41 in greater depth in a separate judgment.

Continue reading

The Curious Case of Molla Sali v. Greece: Legal Pluralism Through the Lens of the ECtHR

By İlker Tsavousoglou, Doctoral Candidate at Human Rights Centre, Ghent University, Attorney at Law

On 19 December 2018, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement on the case of Molla Sali v. Greece. In its ruling, the Grand Chamber unanimously held that there has been a violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention. The Applicant, Ms Chatitze Molla Sali, a Greek national and member of the Muslim minority of Western Thrace, was the beneficiary of her deceased husband’s estate based on a notarised testament of civil law. Following a domestic legal dispute, the Greek Court of Cassation found that the will drafted by a Greek of Muslim faith is devoid of effect. This was because, pursuant to a series of binding international agreements and the relevant domestic norms, the law applicable to the case was Islamic inheritance law instead of the relevant civil law. Continue reading