(Application no. 7743/06)
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 Sokołowska v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, 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. Main proceedings (civil proceedings for settlement of cohabitation)
1. Facts prior to 1 May 1993
2. Facts after 1 May 1993
B. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
Article 6 § 2 provides that a complaint must include:
1) a request to find that there was an unreasonable delay in the impugned proceedings;
2) an indication of circumstances that would justify the request.
According to Article 9 of the Act, when a complaint does not meet the requirements of Article 6 of the Act, it must be rejected without a prior request to the plaintiff to remedy the shortcomings in the complaint.
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 Government's plea of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies
The Court has already examined that remedy for the purposes of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention and found it effective in respect of the complaints of excessive length of judicial proceedings in Poland. In particular, it considered that it was capable both of preventing the alleged violation of the right to a hearing within a reasonable time or its continuation, and of providing adequate redress for any violation that has already occurred (see Charzyński v. Poland (dec.), no. 15212/03, §§ 36-42).
Having regard to the above, the Court rejects the Government's argument as to the applicant's lack of due diligence in preparing her second complaint (see paragraphs 63 and 64 above) and concludes that the applicant made a proper use of the complaint of the excessive length of proceedings, as provided by the 2004 Act.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
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, the following amount to be converted in the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement: EUR 12,000 (twelve thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(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