Repayment in euros of a loan taken out in Swiss francs

In its decision in the case of Antonopoulou v. Greece (application no. 46505/19) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. 

The case concerned the conclusion of a loan agreement and the repayment of the loan. The applicant complained that she had had to repay to the bank an amount in euros that far exceeded the amount she had borrowed in Swiss francs. 

The Court considered that the applicant had not been unaware of the risk entailed in taking out a loan in Swiss francs and the risk that such a strong currency would fluctuate upwards over the 25- year term of the loan. She had been insured for three years against the risk of an increase in her monthly repayments owing to a rise in the exchange rate, and could have renewed that insurance. The loan agreement had also allowed her to request at any time that the loan be converted into euros. Lastly, the applicant had signed four covenants to the original agreement with the bank, reducing the monthly repayments, extending the time-limits for repayment and even temporarily suspending some of the repayments.

The Court noted that domestic law had afforded the applicant appropriate remedies by which to assert her property rights. The applicant had made use of the remedy of an application to the civil courts to set aside the clause in the agreement which she regarded as unfair. She had also had the option of applying to the courts to have the agreement renegotiated or even terminated under Article 388 of the Civil Code. Lastly, under the terms of the agreement, she could have requested the bank at any time to convert the loan into euros and could have taken out insurance against an increase in the monthly repayments. 

Lastly, with regard to the effectiveness of the legal remedy which she had chosen, the Court noted that the applicant had been given the opportunity to set out all her arguments before the competent courts and to obtain a judgment, giving detailed reasons, by the Court of Cassation sitting as a full court. 

The Court of Cassation had interpreted the domestic law in accordance with the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Accordingly, the legal framework put in place by the State had provided the applicant with a mechanism by which to assert her rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The Court therefore declared the application inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded.

Reference from the official website of the European Court of Human Rights