(Application no. 20482/03)
3 March 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 Cibicki v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 10 February 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
“The consequence [of the applicant's failure to pay the court fees for the expert opinion] was to omit this evidence as the court had established that this evidence was not necessary to reach a decision in the instant case – it was not the only piece of evidence on which it could base its finding. Producing this evidence was in the applicant's own interest, as he had borne the burden of providing evidence of the elements of the estate that belonged to his parents and was his mother's inheritance. The assessment of other evidence collected in the case leads to unequivocal conclusion that the marital property in question did not include any of the known and existing paintings of the disputed collection.”
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal...”
1. The parties' submissions
In addition the Government argued that the applicant's right to fair hearing had been respected and that the applicant while bringing a civil action should have been aware that the proceedings might be costly. Moreover, they submitted that the applicant could have applied for a partial exemption from the costs entailed by the preparation of the expert opinion.
In sum, the Government invited the Court to find that there had been no violation of Article 6 of the Convention.
2. The Court's assessment
(a) Principles deriving from the Court's case-law
(b) Application of the above principles to the present case
For the above reasons, the Court concludes that ordering the applicant to bear the costs of the expert opinon, which had been considered by the domestic court of its own motion as a necessary piece of evidence, and the refusal to exempt him from court fees for pursuing his appeal constituted a breach of his right to a fair trial and a disproportionate restriction on his right of access to a court.
II. 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 4,000 (four thousand 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 3 March 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President