(Application no. 21700/02)
7 July 2009
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 Polańscy v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 16 June 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Proceedings concerning compensation for the expropriated plot of land
B. Proceedings for reimbursement of expenses incurred by the applicants
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Relevant provisions of legislation on land expropriation
“Property may be expropriated only for the benefit of the State Treasury”.
“Expropriation shall be carried out against compensation”.
B. Introductory provisions concerning the right to compensation for expropriated property
“Land which as of 31 December 1998 remained in the possession of the State Treasury or local self-government authorities, which is not owned by these entities and has been expropriated for the purposes of constructing roads, shall become ex lege the property of the State Treasury or the respective local self-government authorities, against payment of compensation, on 1 January 1999.
Compensation ... shall be fixed and paid according to the provisions on compensation for expropriated property, at the request of the property owner, which must be lodged between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2005. On the latter date the claim for compensation expires.”
C. Inactivity on the part of the administrative authorities
4. The 2006 resolution of seven judges of the Supreme Court
In this resolution the Supreme Court acknowledged the need to clarify the issue because of divergences in the domestic case-law.
I. THE GOVERNMENT'S PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS
A. The applicants' victim status
B. Non-exhaustion of domestic remedies
1. The Government's submissions
2. The applicants' submissions
3. General principles relating to exhaustion of domestic remedies
4. The Court's assessment
C. Conclusion as to the admissibility
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF THE DELAY IN PAYMENT OF THE COMPENSATION
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”
IV. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION AND OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION
V. 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 applicants jointly, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention,
(i) EUR 7,000 (seven thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into Polish zlotys at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(ii) EUR 334 (three hundred and thirty four euros) plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of costs and expenses, 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 amounts 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 July 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza