(Application no. 74209/01)
7 November 2006
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Romejko v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Ms L. Mijović,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr T.L. Early, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 17 October 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. The proceedings concerning the repossession of the property
1. Facts prior to 1 May 1993
5. On 14 October 1982 the applicant lodged a motion with the Piotrków Trybunalski District Court for the restitution of real property, the peaceful possession of which had been allegedly infringed by the Tuszyn Municipality.
2. Facts after 1 May 1993
B. The proceedings concerning the transfer of property rights
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
The relevant domestic provisions and practice concerning the State’s liability for a tort committed by its official have been already cited in previous cases against Poland (see i.e. Białas v. Poland, no. 69129/01).
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF THE PROCEEDINGS CONCERNING THE REPOSSESION OF PROPERTY
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
Period to be taken into consideration
29. The Government did not address the issue of the length of the enforcement proceedings after 25 July 1995. The Court recalls that according to its established case-law, Article 6 § 1 secures to everyone the right to have any claim relating to his civil rights and obligations brought before a court or tribunal; in this way it embodies the “right to a court”, of which the right of access, that is the right to institute proceedings before courts in civil matters, constitutes one aspect (see the Philis v. Greece judgment of 27 August 1991, Series A no. 209, p. 20, § 59). However, that right would be illusory if a Contracting State’s domestic legal system allowed a final, binding judicial decision to remain inoperative to the detriment of one party. It would be inconceivable that Article 6 § 1 should describe in detail procedural guarantees afforded to litigants – proceedings that are fair, public and expeditious – without protecting the implementation of judicial decisions; to construe Article 6 as being concerned exclusively with access to a court and the conduct of proceedings would be likely to lead to situations incompatible with the principle of the rule of law which the Contracting States undertook to respect when they ratified the Convention (see, mutatis mutandis, the Golder v. the United Kingdom judgment of 21 February 1975, Series A no. 18, pp. 16-18, §§ 34-36). Execution of a judgment given by any court must therefore be regarded as an integral part of the “trial” for the purposes of Article 6; moreover, the Court has already accepted this principle in cases concerning the length of proceedings (see Hornsby v. Greece, judgment of 19 March 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1997 II, §§40-45, the Di Pede v. Italy and Zappia v. Italy judgments of 26 September 1996, Reports 1996-IV, pp. 1383-1384, §§ 20-24, and pp. 1410-1411, §§ 16-20, respectively).
1. The parties’ submissions
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage to be converted into Polish zlotys at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 7 November 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
T.L. Early Nicolas Bratza