by Pekka NIEMELÄ
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 17 November 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 December 2008,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Pekka Niemelä, is a Finnish national who was born in 1954 and lives in Fuengirola, Spain. He was represented before the Court by Ms Tiina Nystén, a lawyer practising in Helsinki. The Finnish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr Arto Kosonen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The circumstances of the case
The applicant was first questioned by the police on 2 February 1992. He was suspected of an offence in relation to credits granted by a bank, which was subsequently wound up.
Charges were brought against the applicant and a number of other defendants in the Salo District Court (käräjäoikeus, tingsrätten). In respect of the applicant, the court proceedings began on 25 September 1996. The complainant, that is the bank’s successor, pursued claims for damages in connection with those proceedings.
On 24 March 2000 the District Court issued its judgment including a procedural decision to examine the complainant’s claims for damages in separate civil proceedings.
On 4 March 2002 the Turku Court of Appeal (hovioikeus, hovrätten) issued its judgment concerning the criminal head of the proceedings. On 30 October 2002 the Supreme Court (korkein oikeus, högsta domstolen) refused leave to appeal against that judgment.
On 12 May 2006 the District Court issued its judgment concerning the civil head of the proceedings. On 12 February 2008 the Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s appeal against that judgment. On 24 June 2008 the Supreme Court refused the applicant leave to appeal.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the above proceedings.
On 30 September 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Arto Kosonen, Agent of the Government of Finland, declare that the Government of Finland offer to pay ex gratia EUR 13,0001 euros to Mr Pekka Niemelä 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. 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.”
On 19 October 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant’s counsel:
“I, Tiina Nystén, the applicant’s counsel, note that the Government of Finland are prepared to pay ex gratia the sum of EUR 13,000 euros to Mr Pekka Niemelä 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 he accepts the proposal and waives any further claims against Finland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. He declares 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.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza
1 This sum includes EUR 11,500 non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,500 costs and expenses (inclusive of VAT).