by Leokadia LIGĘZA
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 23 September 2008 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Päivi Hirvelä, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 26 October 2007,
Having regard to the decision to apply the pilot-judgment procedure and to adjourn its consideration of applications deriving from the same systemic problem identified in the case of Broniowski v. Poland (no. 31443/96),
Having regard to the decisions to strike the applications Wolkenberg and Others v. Poland (no. 50003/99) and Witkowska-Toboła v. Poland (no. 11208/02) out of the Court’s list of cases,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Leokadia Ligęza, is a Polish national who was born in 1934 and lives in Wrocław.
A. Historical background to Bug River cases before the Court
(See E.G. v. Poland, no. 50425/99, §§ 2-5).
B. Particular circumstances of case no. 48335/07
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 27 March 1991 the Wrocław Regional Court (Sąd Wojewódzki) gave a declaratory judgment stating that the applicant’s father had owned real property in the territories beyond the Bug River.
On 4 October 2004 the Opolski Governor (Wojewoda) issued a decision refusing to confirm the applicant’s entitlement to compensation since, according to the relevant laws in force, the claim had already been satisfied.
The applicant’s subsequent attempts to acquire State property were unsuccessful. The only possibility of enforcing the claim was to participate in competitive bids for the sale of State property. However, the State authorities throughout Poland officially acknowledged the acute shortage of State-owned land designated for the realisation of the Bug River claims.
This fact and the fact that at the material time it was the authorities’ common practice to desist from organising auctions for Bug River claimants or to openly deny them the opportunity to enforce their entitlement through the statutory bidding procedure was established by the Court in the Broniowski judgment (see Broniowski, cited above, §§ 48-61, 69-87 and 168-176).
On 11 July 2006 the Minister for the Infrastructure (Minister Infrastruktury) declared the decision of 4 October 2004 null and void and remitted the case to the Opolski Governor.
On 30 November 2006 the Governor issued a decision confirming that the applicant’s claim had complied with formal requirements of the Law on the realisation of the right to compensation for property left beyond the present borders of the Polish State (Ustawa o realizacji prawa do rekompensaty z tytułu pozostawienia nieruchomości poza obecnymi granicami państwa polskiego) (“the July 2005 Act”). The applicant was asked to produce a valuation report estimating the value of the original and compensatory property.
On 29 January 2007 the applicant lodged a complaint against the decision of the Opolski Governor, alleging that the obligation to produce a valuation report imposed on her unfair costs. On 16 July 2007 the Opole Regional Administrative Court (Wojewódzki Sąd Administracyjny) rejected the complaint as the matter did not fall within the competence of the administrative courts.
C. Relevant domestic law and practice in respect of Bug River claims
(See E.G. v. Poland, no. 50425/99, §§ 16-17).
(See E.G. v. Poland, no. 50425/99, § 18).
(See E.G. v. Poland, no. 50425/99, §§ 19-29).
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza