(Application no. 34469/05)
1 December 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 Trzaskalska 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 10 November 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
On 11 December 2001 the applicant again read the case file and declared that she would present her position in writing by 20 December 2001. On 19 December 2001 she submitted pleadings in which she again challenged the expert opinions. In her opinion, neither of the experts had taken into account decisions on compensation issued for her neighbours.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Inactivity on the part of the administrative authorities
25. The relevant domestic law concerning inactivity on the part of administrative authorities is set out in Grabiński v. Poland, no. 43702/02, §§ 60-65, 17 October 2006.
B. Relevant provisions of the Code of Administrative Procedure
27. Article 156 of the Code provides that a final administrative decision can be declared null and void at any time if it was issued without a legal basis, or in flagrant violation of the law. If the flaw that taints the challenged decision is of a substantive nature, namely, if the decision had been given without a legal basis or in flagrant violation of the law, the administrative authority shall declare it null and void. A decision to declare the old decision null and void, or a refusal to do so, may ultimately be appealed against to the administrative courts.
29. Under section 113 an expropriation can only be carried out for the benefit of the State Treasury or of the local municipality. In accordance with section 128 § 1 of the Act, expropriation can only be carried out against payment of compensation corresponding to the value of the property right concerned.
D. Remedy against the excessive length of judicial proceedings
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF THE UNFAIRNESS OF THE PROCEEDINGS
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal...”
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF THE UNREASONABLE LENGTH OF THE PROCEEDINGS
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
The applicant contested that argument.
The applicant tried to institute the relevant proceedings by submitting, in January 1997, her motion to the Office of Urban Development. The Court notes the Government's argument that this authority lacked competence to examine the case. However, it also observes that under Article 65 § 1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure, that authority was obliged to forward her motion to the competent body without delay. The Office ultimately complied with this obligation, but only two years later. In the meantime, in the absence of any reaction from the Office, the applicant submitted a new motion to the Governor. The Court therefore considers that in the absence of an appropriate reaction on the part of the Office, the proceedings should be deemed to have started in January 1997.
Subsequently, in July 1999 the applicant obtained a declaratory decision that the 1988 decision on compensation was null and void. That decision gave rise, under the provisions of the 1997 Land Administration Act, to the authorities' obligation to determine the amount of compensation for the expropriation to be paid to her (see paragraphs 28 – 29 above). Indeed, three months later, in October 1999, the authorities instituted the proceedings for the determination of the new amount of their own motion. In these circumstances, the Court is of the view that all three sets of proceedings relate to the same issue, namely the applicant's attempts to obtain compensation and that therefore their duration should be examined as a whole (Cravcenco v. Moldova, no. 13012/02, § 49, 15 January 2008; Boboc v. Moldova, no. 27581/04, § 27, 4 November 2008).
The Court is of the view that in the circumstances of the case a complaint about inactivity did not offer the applicant any reasonable prospects of success (see Stevens v. Poland, no. 13568/02, judgment of 26 October 2006, §§ 44 46 and Kamecki and Others v. Poland, no. 62506/00, § 42, 9 June 2009). Moreover, the longest delay in the case occurred between 9 April 2002 and 14 June 2004, when the applicant's appeal against a decision given on the former date was pending before the Supreme Administrative Court. No remedy in respect of the length of judicial proceedings was available to the applicant at that time (Helwig v. Poland, no. 33550/02, § 44, 21 October 2008).
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO.1 TO THE CONVENTION
IV. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS 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.
V. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 2,400 (two thousand four hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 500 (five hundred euros) in respect of costs and expenses, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State 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 1 December 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza