by Edmund KORZUCH
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 13 March 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Edmund Korzuch, is a Polish national who was born in 1938 and lives in Rybnik. 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 7 February 2000 the applicant was arrested on suspicion of having committed offences relating to fraud.
On 14 April 2000 he was released on bail.
On 23 April 2001 the applicant was indicted before the Opole District Court (Sąd Rejonowy). The bill of indictment comprised numerous charges of fraud against 9 accused.
The hearings scheduled for 16 July, 21 September and 5 November 2004 were adjourned.
Between 10 March 2006 and 29 September 2006 the court held seven hearings, two of which were adjourned.
On 20 July 2007 the Opole District Court found that it had no competence to deal with the case and referred it to the Opole Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy).
On 15 October 2007 the Opole Regional Court remitted the case for examination by the Opole District Court.
The case is pending before the Opole District Court.
2. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
On 1 September 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Opole 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 applicant sought a ruling that the length of the proceedings before the Opole District Court had been excessive and an award of just satisfaction in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. EUR 2,500).
On 25 September 2006 the Regional Court dismissed his complaint. The court acknowledged the excessive length of the proceedings before the Opole District Court, finding that there had been a period of unjustified inactivity between 23 April 2001 and 16 July 2004. However, it held that the 2004 Act produced legal effects as from the date of its entry into force (17 September 2004). Consequently, it examined the applicant’s claim only in respect of the last two years of the proceedings. The court found that during the relevant part of the proceedings, there had been no inactivity or undue delay on the part of the domestic court.
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. He further complained under Article 6 § 3 that the court had not yet heard all of the witnesses.
On 19 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Edmund Korzuch, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 15,000 (fifteen 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 3 March 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 15,000 (fifteen thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Edmund Korzuch 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