by Gabriel ŁOJEWSKI
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 3 March 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 11 December 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Gabriel Łojewski, is a Polish national who was born in 1948 and lives in Wołomin. 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 applicant, may be summarised as follows.
1. Main proceedings
On 20 December 2001 the applicant lodged with the Warszawa District Court (Sąd Rejonowy) a claim for payment.
By a decision of 1 March 2002 the District Court found that it had no competence to deal with the case and referred it to the Warszawa Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy).
On 10 July and 18 December 2002 the court held hearings.
On 14 April 2004 the applicant complained about the delay in the proceedings.
On 5 May 2004 the President of the Regional Court acknowledged the delay and informed him that the proceedings would be continued speedily and terminated shortly.
In the course of the proceedings three expert reports were obtained.
On 4 September 2005 the court closed the trial and adjourned delivery of judgment to 27 September 2005. The parties lodged several procedural writs and the court decided to re-open the trial.
On 25 January 2006 the court held a hearing.
On 8 May 2006 the Warszawa Regional Court gave judgment.
On 22 November 2006 the Warszawa Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) quashed the first-instance judgment and remitted the case.
On 6 July and 27 September 2007 the court held hearings.
On 30 November 2007 the Warszawa Regional Court gave judgment. The applicant filed his appeal with the Court of Appeal on 6 March 2008.
It appears that the proceedings are pending before the Court of Appeal.
2. The applicant's complaints under the 2004 Act
On 11 April 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Warszawa 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”). The case was referred to the Warszawa Court of Appeal.
The applicant sought a ruling declaring that the length of the proceedings in his case had been excessive and an award of just satisfaction in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. EUR 2,500).
On 21 June 2006 the Warszawa Court of Appeal dismissed the complaint. The court observed that even though the case had been pending for over three years, its length could not be considered unreasonable. It examined the course of the impugned proceedings and held that there were no delays for which the Regional Court could be held responsible. According to the court, the case had been complex, the evidence from three experts had been obtained and the plaintiff had modified his claim several times, contributing to the length of the proceedings.
On 17 June 2006 the applicant lodged another complaint under the 2004 Act.
On 6 December 2006 the Warszawa Court of Appeal rejected his complaint, relying on section 14 of the 2004 Act (under this provision a fresh length complaint in the same proceedings cannot be lodged earlier than 12 months from the date on which a court has given a decision concerning the first length complaint).
On 2 July 2007 the applicant lodged a third complaint under the 2004 Act.
On 12 September 2007 the Warszawa Court of Appeal dismissed it. The court examined the complaint in respect of the period between 21 June 2006 and the date on which it had been lodged by the applicant. The Court of Appeal held that there were no delays for which the Regional Court could be held responsible.
On 17 June 2008 the applicant lodged a fourth complaint under the 2004 Act with the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy).
On 11 July 2008 the Warszawa Court of Appeal rejected his complaint. It held that the applicant failed to lodge it in accordance with formal requirements set out in Polish law, namely, with the assistance of a lawyer.
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.
As regards the above-mentioned section 14 of the 2004 Act, it reads, in so far as relevant, as follows:
“The applicant may lodge a new length complaint in the same proceedings not earlier than after 12 months ... from the date on which a court gave a decision referred to in section 12.”
The applicant complained about the excessive length of the proceedings and the fact that the domestic court did not grant him any compensation for the protracted length of the proceedings.
On 16 December 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Gabriel Łojewski, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 12,000 (twelve 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.”
On 19 January 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 12,000 (twelve thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Gabriel Łojewski 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.”
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.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President