by Zdzisław KASZTELAN
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 3 November 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 6 December 2006,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Zdzisław Kasztelan, is a Polish national who was born in 1950 and lives in Połajewo. The Government was 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. Proceedings for division of marital property
On 20 June 2001 the applicant brought a civil action for division of marital property.
On 24 September 2001 the court changed the judge-rapporteur assigned to the case.
The first trial was scheduled by the Chodzież District Court (Sąd Rejonowy) for 18 April 2002. It was adjourned because of the absence of the applicant’s ex-wife.
The first hearing was actually held on 13 June 2002.
On 27 November 2002 the trial court adjourned the case for 167 days.
On unspecified dates in 2005 and 2006 the applicant modified his claim.
There were frequent and long periods of inactivity on the part of the first instance court.
On 12 May 2008 the Chodzież District Court delivered a judgment.
The applicant appealed.
On 10 February 2009 the Poznań Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) delivered a decision.
2. Proceedings under the 2004 Act in connection with the division of marital property case
On 29 August 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Poznań Regional Court under the 2004 Act as regards the proceedings for division of marital property.
On 24 October 2006 the Poznań Regional Court dismissed the applicant’s claim. The court found that the impugned proceedings, although lengthy, were progressing without any undue delays. It was noted that the trial court had been active and diligent; it had held many hearings and issued many decisions concerning the applicant’s repetitive procedural applications.
3. Proceedings for reopening of the case concerning child maintenance
On 25 July 2005 the applicant lodged an application with the Chodzież District Court to reopen proceedings concerning child maintenance which had been terminated by the judgment of the Poznań Regional Court of 26 October 2004.
On 9 November 2006 the Chodzież District Court relinquished its jurisdiction over the case to the Poznań Regional Court. The first hearing was held on 30 March 2007. Three hearings were held subsequently that year.
On 19 October 2007 the Poznań Regional Court rejected the applicant’s appeal for reopening. The court held that the evidence on which the applicant had relied in his application for reopening was neither new nor material to the proceedings completed in 2004.
4. Proceedings under the 2004 Act in relation to the reopening of the child maintenance case
On 2 August 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Poznań Regional Court under the 2004 Act as regards the proceedings relating to the reopening of the child maintenance case.
On 13 October 2006 the Poznań Regional Court held that the impugned proceedings had been unreasonably lengthy and instructed the trial court to accelerate the proceedings. In addition, the applicant was awarded 1,500 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. 340 euros (EUR)) as compensation.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning remedies for the excessive length of judicial proceedings, in particular the applicable provisions of the 2004 Act, 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, and the judgment in the case of Krasuski v. Poland, no. 61444/00, §§ 34-46, ECHR 2005-V.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the civil proceedings for division of his marital property and the proceedings for reopening of the case concerning child maintenance had been unreasonably long.
He also complained that Article 13 of the Convention had been breached in that he did not have an effective remedy for excessive length of proceedings because he had no right to appeal against the decisions given by the Poznań Regional Court on 13 and 24 October 2006.
On 28 August 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay 12,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) to Mr Zdzisław Kasztelan 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 payable within three months from the date of the 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:
“I, Zdzisław Kasztelan, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of 12,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) 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 will be payable within three months from the date of the 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 of this application. I declare 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 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