by Justyna KOŁODZIEJEK
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 1 September 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 14 January 2008,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Justyna Kołodziejek, is a Polish national who was born in 1979 and lives in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. She was represented before the Court by Mr T. Turek, a lawyer practising in Warszawa. The Polish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr J. Wołąsiewicz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
1. Main proceedings
On 6 May 2002 the applicant lodged with the Warszawa District Court (Sąd Rejonowy) a claim for reinstatement.
On 17 March 2003 and 15 January 2004 the court held hearings.
On 15 January 2004 the court stayed the proceedings, finding that the criminal proceedings against the applicant were pending and their result was relevant for the proceedings in question. The applicant appealed.
On 2 February 2004 the District Court reversed its decision of 15 January 2004.
On 13 August 2004 the court again stayed the proceedings. On 31 August 2004 the applicant appealed.
On 15 November 2004 the Warszawa Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) rejected the applicant’s appeal of 31 August 2004 on the basis that the presiding judge had not signed the decision of 13 August 2004. Accordingly, this decision had not been duly delivered and the applicant’s appeal against a non-existent decision had to be rejected.
Between 20 June 2006 and 7 August 2007 the court held seven hearings.
On 21 August 2007 the Warszawa District Court gave judgment. The applicant appealed.
On 26 March 2008 the Warszawa Regional Court upheld the first instance judgment.
On 4 July 2008 the applicant lodged a cassation appeal. The case is pending before the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy).
2. The applicant’s complaint under the 2004 Act
On 7 May 2007 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Warszawa Regional Court under section 5 of the Law of 17 June 2004 on complaints about a breach of the right to a trial within a reasonable time (Ustawa o skardze na naruszenie prawa strony do rozpoznania sprawy w postępowaniu sądowym bez nieuzasadnionej zwłoki) (“the 2004 Act”).
The applicant sought a ruling declaring that the length of the proceedings in her case had been excessive and an award of just satisfaction in the amount of 8,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. 2,000 euros (EUR)).
On 5 July 2007 the Warszawa Regional Court gave a decision and confirmed that the proceedings had been lengthy. However, the court did not grant any just satisfaction to the applicant. It held that she failed to prove that the length of the proceedings had caused her any distress.
On 6 August 2007 the Warszawa Regional Court rejected the applicant’s interlocutory appeal as inadmissible in law.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning remedies for the excessive length of judicial proceedings are stated in the Court’s decisions in the cases of Charzyński v. Poland no. 15212/03 (dec.), §§ 12-23, ECHR 2005-V and Ratajczyk v. Poland no. 11215/02 (dec.), ECHR 2005-VIII.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the excessive length of the proceedings.
On 17 April 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Tomasz Turek, Ms Justyna Kołodziejek’s representative, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay the applicant the sum of PLN 8,000 (eight thousand Polish zlotys) 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 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 Poland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. She declares that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
On 15 June 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Jakub Wołąsiewicz, Agent of the Polish Government, declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 8,000 (eight thousand Polish zlotys) to Ms Justyna Kołodziejek 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 free of any taxes that may be applicable and 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 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 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.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President