by Zygmunt PILECKI (no. 2)
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 27 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 18 April 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Zygmunt Pilecki, is a Polish national who was born in 1945 and lives in Szczecin. 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
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. Main proceedings
On 5 October 1993 the Szczecin District Court (Sąd Rejonowy) ruled that a certain R.K. (“the debtor”) was to pay the applicant a sum of 400,000,000 Polish zlotys (PLN), with statutory interest.
On 15 October 1993 the applicant asked the bailiff of the District Court (Komornik Sądu Rejonowego) to institute enforcement proceedings.
On 2 December 1993 the bailiff seized the debtor’s apartment.
On 18 January 1994 the applicant lodged a request for the valuation of the debtor’s apartment. The valuation was done on 30 November 1994.
On 13 July 1995 the court cancelled the auction of the debtor’s apartment set for 14 July 1995.
On 31 July 1995 the bailiff discontinued the enforcement proceedings for possession of the debtor’s apartment.
On 12 April 1996 the Szczecin Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) quashed the bailiff decision of 31 July 1995.
On 20 December 1996 the court ordered the bailiff to continue the enforcement proceedings.
On 5 February 1999 the court ordered a new valuation of the debtor’s apartment to be carried out.
On 20 February 2001 the bailiff appointed the expert responsible for the valuation. On 26 April 2001 the applicant received the valuation report.
On 29 August 2001 the Szczecin District Court set out a timetable for the auction of the debtor’s apartment.
On 25 October 2001 the auction was held and the apartment was sold to the applicant.
By a decision of 27 November 2001 the court ordered the applicant to place on deposit the purchase price.
On 7 December 2001 the applicant lodged a request for exemption from court fees.
On 20 February 2002 the District Court dismissed the applicant’s request. The decision was upheld on 24 June 2002 by the Regional Court.
On 9 April 2003 the court stayed the proceedings. They were resumed on 31 August 2004.
On 15 November 2004 the court gave a decision declaring the purchase of the apartment on behalf of the applicant null and void.
On 22 February 2007 the court ordered the bailiff to set the date for a new valuation of the debtor’s apartment to be carried out.
The proceedings are pending.
2. The applicant’s complaint under the 2004 Act
On an unknown date the applicant lodged a complaint with the Szczecin Regional Court under section 5 of the Law of 17 June 2004 on complaints about a breach of the right to a trial within a reasonable time (Ustawa o skardze na naruszenie prawa strony do rozpoznania sprawy w postępowaniu sądowym bez nieuzasadnionej zwłoki) (“the 2004 Act”).
On 30 June 2006 the Szczecin Regional Court gave a decision. The court held that the 2004 Act did not have retroactive effect and, consequently, examined the applicant’s claim only in respect of the period between the entry into force of the 2004 Act on 17 September 2004 and the date on which the complaint had been lodged by the applicant. The court found that, during that part of the proceedings, there had been some periods of inactivity for which both the bailiff and the District Court had been responsible. The court awarded the applicant 2,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. 526 euros (EUR)) in just satisfaction.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning remedies for the excessive length of judicial proceedings 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.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the excessive length of the proceedings.
On 5 October 2008 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 20,000 (twenty thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Zygmunt Pilecki 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.”
On 4 November 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Zygmunt Pilecki, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 20,000 (twenty thousand 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.”
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