(Application no. 35785/07)
13 January 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 Tekiela v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 9 December 2008,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Civil proceedings for damages
B. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
I. 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 Court observes that the purpose of the complaint about the unreasonable length of the proceedings under that Act is twofold. Firstly, the complainant may obtain a finding of an infringement of the “reasonable time” principle and, where appropriate, may be awarded just satisfaction in an amount not exceeding PLN 10,000. Secondly, he can request the court to instruct the court which examines the merits of the case to take certain measures within a fixed time-limit and thus to accelerate the impugned proceedings (see Michalak v. Poland, no. 24549/03, § 16, 1 March 2005). In the present case, in its decision of 29 January 2007 the Court of Appeal found that the lower court had failed to conduct the proceedings speedily, but dismissed the applicant's request for compensation. However, it made use of its competence to instruct the court before which the proceedings were pending at that time and ordered it to give a judgment on the merits of the applicant's case before July 2007.
The Court notes with approval that this order was complied with as subsequently the first-instance judgment was given by the Kraków Regional Court on 23 May 2007. Hence, the remedy used by the applicant provided adequate redress to the applicant in that it resulted in the acceleration of the proceedings.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 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.”
31. The Court reiterates that Article 13 guarantees an effective remedy before a national authority for an alleged breach of the requirement under Article 6 § 1 to hear a case within a reasonable time. However, the “effectiveness” of a “remedy” within the meaning of that provision does not depend on the certainty of a favourable outcome for the applicant (see Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, §§ 154 et seq., ECHR 2000-XI, §§ 156-157).
32. While the subsidiarity principle underlying the Convention system requires the Contracting States to introduce a mechanism addressing complaints about the excessive length of proceedings within the national legal system, they are afforded – subject to compliance with the requirements of the Convention – some discretion as to the manner in which they provide individuals with the relief required by Article 13 and conform to their Convention obligation under that provision. In particular, where the State has introduced a compensatory remedy, the Court must leave to it a wide margin of appreciation and allow it to organise the remedy – including the interpretation and application of the notion of “damage” in a given case – in a manner consistent with its own legal system, traditions and the standard of living in the country concerned (see Kudła ibid.; and Scordino v. Italy (no.1) [GC], no. 36813/97, §§ 188-189, ECHR 2006-...).
33. The fact that in the present case the applicant's complaint under the 2004 Act failed in that no financial award was made does not in itself render the remedy under the 2004 Act incompatible with Article 13.
34. As stated above, the expression “effective remedy” used in Article 13 cannot be interpreted as a remedy bound to succeed, but simply an accessible remedy before an authority competent to examine the merits of a complaint (see, e.g., Šidlová v. Slovakia, no. 50224/99, § 77, 26 September 2006).
35. In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that in the circumstances of the present case it cannot be said that the applicant's right to an effective remedy under Article 13 of the Convention has not been respected.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
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 900 (nine hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into Polish zlotys 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 amount 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 13 January 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza