by Michal SKÓRZYBÓT
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 24 March 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 21 April 2008,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Michal Skórzybót, is a Polish national who was born in 1919 and lives in Wrocław. He was represented before the Court by Mr Stanisław Skórzybut, his son living in Hassbach, Germany. 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.
On 7 June 2005, the applicant lodged a civil claim for compensation for violation of his personal rights against the Wrocław District Court (Sąd Rejonowy). He maintained that the District Court, which dealt with three sets of proceedings concerning the applicant, had not been diligent and had been responsible for their excessive length. The applicant paid court fees in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN).
On 27 June 2007, the Wrocław Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) dismissed the action. The applicant lodged an appeal and asked for exemption from the court fees in the appellate proceedings.
On 1 January 2006, the Radom District Court partly exempted the applicant from court fees above PLN 2,000. The court considered that the applicant could partly pay the fee for proceeding with his appeal.
On 28 December 2007, the Wrocław Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) dismissed the applicant’s appeal. It appears that the applicant was served with written reasons for the judgment after 28 January 2008.
On 20 February 2008, the applicant requested the Court of Appeal to appoint him a legal-aid lawyer who would lodge on his behalf the cassation appeal and to exempt him from court fees in the cassation proceedings.
On 21 February 2008, the Wrocław Court of Appeal dismissed both requests. The decision contained no reasons.
On 3 and 5 March 2008, the applicant applied again for legal aid and requested the court to prepare written reasons for the decision of 21 February 2008.
On 7 March 2008, the court dismissed the applicant’s second request for legal aid and rejected the application to prepare written reasons for the decision of 21 February 2008. Neither decision contains reasons.
B. Relevant domestic law
Article 871 of the Code of Civil Proceedings lays down the principle of mandatory assistance of a lawyer in cassation appeal proceedings.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that his right of access to a court had been violated in that the domestic courts refused to appoint him a lawyer with a view to filing a cassation appeal and thus deprived him of a possibility to have his case examined by the Supreme Court.
On 4 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant’s representative:
“I, Stanisław Skórzybut, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay the sum of PLN 8,200 (eight thousand two hundred Polish zlotys) to Mr Michał Skórzybót 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 judgment by the Court pursuant to Article 39 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.
Having consulted the applicant, I would inform you that he accepts the proposal and waives any further claims against Poland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. He declares that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.
This declaration is made in the context of a friendly settlement which the Government and the applicant have reached.
I further undertake not to request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 § 1 of the Convention after delivery of the Court’s judgment.”
On 13 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Jakub Wołąsiewicz, agent of the Government, declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 8,200 (eight thousand two hundred Polish zlotys) to Mr Michał Skórzybót 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 judgment by the Court pursuant to Article 39 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 Government further undertake not to request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 § 1 of the Convention.”
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