by Tomasz ZAPOLSKI
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 31 March 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 12 March 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case.
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Tomasz Zapolski, is a Polish national who was born in 1963 and lives in Warszawa. He was represented before the Court by Ms N. Ołowska-Zalewska, a lawyer practising in Warsaw. 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.
1. Criminal proceedings against the applicant
On 28 December 1992 the Warsaw District Prosecutor issued a bill of indictment against the applicant. The Warsaw District Court held hearings on 7 February 1994, 10 June 1999 and 16 October 2001. From 16 October 2001 to 14 February 2006 the court held 29 further hearings.
On 21 February 2006 the Warsaw District Court acquitted the applicant. Appeal proceedings are currently pending before the Warsaw Regional Court.
2. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
On 4 December 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Warsaw Regional Court under the Act of 17 June 2004 on complaints about breaches 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”). He also claimed just satisfaction in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN – approximately 2,630 euros (EUR)).
On 14 December 2006 the Warsaw Regional Court acknowledged that the impugned proceedings had been excessively lengthy. It acknowledged that an “unreasonable delay” had occurred between the date of filing the bill of indictment in December 1992 and the dates of the first hearings held in 2001. The Regional Court awarded the applicant PLN 1,000 in just satisfaction, holding that “this amount was appropriate in the applicant’s case”.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of a violation of his right to have his case heard within a reasonable time.
The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention that the 2004 Act was not an effective remedy against the excessive length of proceedings.
On 28 October 2008 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 31,000 (thirty one thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Tomasz Zapolski 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. 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.”
On 7 November 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Tomasz Zapolski, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 31,000 (thirty one 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.”
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