by Łucja STRAMSKA
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 13 January 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 7 June 2006,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Łucja Stramska, is a Polish national who was born in 1953 and lives in Nowa Sól. She was represented before the Court by Ms J. Pilarska, a lawyer practising in Zielona Góra. 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
On 26 January 2001 a Disability Board in Nowa Sól gave a decision, confirming that the applicant's daughter suffered from a disability of medium severity. On 1 March 2001 the applicant, relying on her daughter's disability, requested the local municipality to grant her a social assistance benefit payable to parents of children suffering from disabilities. This was refused by a decision of 20 March 2001, given by the Social Assistance Centre in Nowa Sól.
On 5 June 2001 the Local Government Board of Appeal in Zielona Góra dismissed the applicant's appeal against the first-instance decision. The applicant appealed. On 9 June 2005 the Regional Administrative Court in Poznań allowed the appeal, finding that the second-instance authority had failed to comply with its obligation to establish the applicant's and her daughter's financial situation by way of an administrative inquiry.
By a decision of 10 October 2005 the Local Government Board of Appeal discontinued the proceedings, having regard to the fact that under new legislation which had come into force on 1 May 2004 the applicant had lost her substantive entitlement to the permanent assistance benefit on account of her daughter's disability. Hence, the proceedings had become devoid of purpose.
The applicant appealed. On 8 March 2006 the Regional Administrative Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski dismissed her appeal, sharing the conclusions of the appellate authority. This judgment, with its written grounds, was served on the applicant on 20 March 2006.
On an unspecified later date the applicant was granted, by a decision of an official of the court's registry, legal aid for the purposes of lodging a cassation appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court.
By a letter to the court dated 18 May 2006 the lawyer informed the court that she saw no legal grounds on which she could draft a cassation appeal. This letter was served on the applicant on an unspecified later date.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings in which she had sought the grant of a social assistance benefit had exceeded a reasonable time.
She further complained that she had been granted legal aid, but that ultimately she had been deprived of access to the Supreme Administrative Court because her legal aid lawyer had refused to submit a cassation appeal to that court.
By letter dated 22 November 2007 the Government were requested to submit their observations in the case by 14 February 2008. Their reply was submitted on 26 February 2008. By a letter of 5 March 2008 the Government's attention was drawn to the fact that their observations had been submitted outside the time-limit and that no extension of time had been requested before the allotted period had expired. That being so, the President of the Chamber decided, pursuant to Rule 38 § 1 of the Rules of Court, that the observations should not be included in the case file for the consideration of the Court.
By a letter of the same date the applicant was invited to submit, by 2 April 2008, her claims for just satisfaction together with any submissions which she might wish to make, in particular addressing the questions put by the Court to the Government. Subsequently the applicant retained a lawyer and informed the Court accordingly. The time-limit for the submission of her reply was extended until 2 May 2008.
By a letter of 11 April 2008 the applicant's representative submitted claims for just satisfaction.
By a letter of 25 April 2008 the applicant's representative was invited to clarify whether she wished to avail herself of the opportunity to submit further pleadings in the case, in particular in the form of a reply to the questions put to the parties. There was no reply to this letter.
By a further letter, dated 16 October 2008 and sent by registered post, the applicant's representative was again invited to clarify her position, by 29 October 2008. The applicant's representative's attention was drawn to Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention, which provides that the Court may strike a case out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that the applicant does not intend to pursue the application. The applicant's representative received this letter on 22 October 2008. However, no response has been received.
The Court considers that, in these circumstances, the applicant may be regarded as no longer wishing to pursue her application, within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the continued examination of the case. 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