by Paweł SOŚNIA
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 29 September 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 October 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Paweł Sośnia, is a Polish national who was born in 1962 and lives in Łódź. The Polish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr J. Wołąsiewicz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A. Proceedings on the merits of the case
On 25 July 2001 the applicant divorced.
In 2001 his former wife filed a claim with the Łódź District Court for division of the marital property.
The proceedings are currently pending before the District Court.
B. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
On 10 December 2005 the applicant lodged a complaint under the 2004 Act about the excessive length of the proceedings before the Łódź District Court.
By a decision of 20 February 2006 the Łódź Regional Court confirmed that the proceedings had indeed been lengthy. The court took into consideration the whole period from the date of instituting the proceedings. It found that the District Court had lacked diligence in the examination of the case. In particular, there had been a year-long period of inactivity between 2003 and 2004 and several months of inactivity in 2005. The court also noted that the hearings had been frequently adjourned, at times without the court giving any reasons. The Regional Court considered that an award of PLN 2,000 would be adequate. It refrained from giving any instructions to the lower court as to the further conduct of the proceedings.
C. Proceedings for damages against the State Treasury
On 11 May 2006 the applicant filed a claim against the State Treasury with the Łódź Regional Court, claiming damages for the unreasonable length of the civil proceedings before the Łódź District Court.
The claim was dismissed on 25 July 2006.
On 12 April 2007 the Łódź Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s appeal.
By a decision of 29 May 2007 the Court of Appeal granted the applicant legal aid for the purpose of lodging a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court and informed him that the relevant time limit would expire on 25 July 2007. A lawyer was assigned on 1 June 2007.
By a letter to the Łódź Court of Appeal of 10 July 2007 the lawyer refused to prepare and lodge a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court, having found no points of law on which it could be based.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the excessive length of the proceedings for division of the marital property.
He also alleged that the remedy provided under the 2004 Act had proved to be ineffective in his case, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention, as the amount of compensation was too low.
Finally, he complained that he had been denied an effective access to a court since the legal aid lawyer had refused to prepare and file a cassation complaint with the Supreme Court. He invoked Article 17 of the Convention.
On 18 June 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Paweł Sośnia, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of 17,600 (seventeen thousand six hundred 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.
I accept the proposal and waive any further claims against Poland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. I declare that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
On 4 August 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 17,600 (seventeen thousand six hundred Polish zlotys) to Mr Paweł Sośnia 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.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza