by Lesław GALEŃSKI and Others
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 4 April 2008,
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 applicants, Mr Lesław Galeński (“the first applicant”), Anna Galeńska (“the second applicant”), Maria Data-Galeńska (“the third applicant”) and Janusz Galeński (“the fourth applicant”) are Polish nationals. The first, second and third applicants live in Kraków. The fourth applicant lives in Warsaw. Their dates of birth are unknown. They were represented before the Court by Mr Z. Cichoń, a lawyer practising in Kraków.
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. 20159/08
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.
On 20 February 2003 the Mayor of Kraków (Prezydent Miasta) issued a decision confirming that the applicants had the right to compensation for the property abandoned by their family in the territories beyond the Bug River, valued at 210,633 Polish zlotys (PLN).
The applicants’ 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 10 October 2003 the applicants lodged a claim for compensation for the Bug River property against the State Treasury. On 18 October 2006 the Kraków Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) dismissed the action as unsubstantiated.
The applicants did not inform the Court whether they had initiated proceedings under 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”) in order to obtain compensation for the Bug River property.
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