by Przemyslaw KOZIARSKI
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 31 March 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 21 September 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Przemyslaw Koziarski, is a Polish national who was born in 1969 and lives in Opole. 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. Criminal proceedings against the applicant
On 29 November 2000 the applicant was detained on remand. He was released on 22 December 2000. On the same day he was made subject to a police supervision order.
On 17 September 2004 the applicant was indicted before the Opole District Court (Sąd Rejonowy). He was charged with numerous counts of fraud. The bill of indictment comprised 35 accused.
On 27 October 2004 the case, considered as a particularly complex one, was referred to the Opole Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy).
Between 20 July and 23 November 2005 the court held three preparatory sessions. The applicant failed to appear.
Between 6 September and 20 December 2006 the court held 13 hearings. The applicant failed to appear at 9 of these hearings. However, the court proceeded with the trial, adjourning the hearing on only one occasion due to the applicant’s absence.
On 7 December 2006 the applicant was detained on remand in order to secure his appearance at the trial. He was released on 28 February 2007.
Between 3 January 2007 and 22 October 2008 the court held 44 hearings.
2. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
On an unspecified date the applicant lodged a complaint with the Wrocław Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) under 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 applicant sought a ruling that the length of the proceedings before the Opole Regional Court had been excessive and an award of just satisfaction in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. 2,500 euros (EUR)).
On 18 December 2007 the Wroclaw 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. The court held that there were no delays for which the Regional Court could be held responsible. It referred to the complexity of the case, the number of accused and the need to obtain voluminous evidence. The court further observed that the period between the dates of lodging the bill of indictment and scheduling the first hearing had been needed for the presiding judge to analyse the case file and to handle numerous procedural motions.
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.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the excessive length of the proceedings.
On 15 December 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Przemysław Koziarski, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 18,500 (eighteen thousand five hundred 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 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 18,500 (eighteen thousand five hundred Polish zlotys) to Mr Przemysław Koziarski 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.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza