by GraZina GRUDZINSKIENĖ
European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting
on 9 June 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Nona Tsotsoria, judges,
and Sally Dollé, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 17 August 2004,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms GraZina Grudzinskienė, is a Lithuanian national who was born in 1962 and lives in Vilnius. She was represented before the Court by Ms L. Meškauskaitė, a lawyer practising in Vilnius. The Lithuanian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms E. Baltutytė.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant was the third wife of the late J.G.
On 10 November 2001 a Lithuanian daily newspaper, Lietuvos Rytas, published an article entitled “Hope of new life for women who have been physically abused” (Kūno Zaizdas moterys gydo naujo gyvenimo viltimi). The article was about the problem of domestic violence and was illustrated by the example of the second wife of J.G. At the time of the publication J.G. was married to the applicant. The article also contained a picture of J.G. with his children and second wife.
The applicant’s husband brought a civil action against the newspaper for a breach of his privacy. He submitted that he had not consented to the publication and that the article harmed not only him personally, but also his family.
On 10 June 2002 the Vilnius City Third District Court granted his claim.
On 20 July 2002 the applicant’s husband died. On 4 September 2003 the Vilnius Regional Court declared the applicant and her children to be the successors to her husband’s procedural rights.
On 11 September 2003 the Vilnius Regional Court overturned the decision and dismissed the claim. The court stated that some of the published facts were publicly available. Concerning the remaining information about the abuse of the former wife, the court stated that it was in the public interest to receive such information.
On 23 February 2004 the Supreme Court dismissed a cassation appeal by the applicant. The court held that the purpose of the publication had been to inform society of domestic violence, a serious matter of public interest, and not to humiliate the applicant’s husband. In the Supreme Court’s view, publication of the photograph only illustrated the facts of the case and could not be regarded as a separate interference with privacy.
The applicant complained under Article 8 of the Convention that the publication of the information about the private and family life of her late husband and the accompanying picture of him infringed the right to privacy of the applicant herself, as well as that of her late husband and of their family.
On 2 April 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Elvyra BALTUTYTĖ, Agent of Government, declare that the Government of Lithuania offer to pay ex gratia 7,000 (seven thousand) euros to Ms GraZina Grudzinskienė with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into Lithuanian Litas at the rate applicable on the date of payment, and will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
The Court also received the following declaration signed by the applicant’s representative:
“I, Liudvika MEŠKAUSKAITĖ, applicant’s representative, note that the Government of Lithuania are prepared to pay the applicant ex gratia the sum of 7,000 (seven thousand) euros with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into Lithuanian Litas at the rate applicable on the date of payment, and will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 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.
Having consulted my client, I would inform you that she accepts the proposal and waives any further claims against Lithuania in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. She declares that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Sally Dollé Françoise