by Roman NADOLSKI
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 June 2004,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Roman Nadolski, is a Polish national who was born in 1949 and lives in Torun. 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. Proceedings against the applicant’s former employer
On 29 December 1998 the applicant lodged a claim for compensation against his former employer (the Polchem company in Toruń) and two other defendants, with the Toruń Regional Court (Sad Okręgowy).
On 20 May 1999 the Toruń Regional Court dismissed his claim. The applicant appealed.
On 14 January 2000 the Gdańsk Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) quashed the first-instance judgment as regards the applicant’s former employer and remitted the case to the Toruń District Court (Sąd Rejonowy).
After four years, on 27 April 2004, the applicant was summoned to appear at a hearing before the Toruń District Court on 20 May 2004.
At the hearing on 20 May 2004 the applicant was informed that the defendant company had been declared insolvent.
On 22 June 2004 the Toruń District Court stayed the proceedings.
On 25 October 2006 the Toruń District Court resumed the proceedings.
On 30 November 2006 the parties to the proceedings entered into a friendly settlement and the court discontinued the proceedings.
2. The applicant’s complaint under the 2004 Act in relation to the above proceedings
On 29 September 2004 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Toruń 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”). He sought a ruling declaring that the length of the impugned proceedings had been excessive and seeking just satisfaction of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN).
On 31 December 2004 the Toruń Regional Court gave a decision in which it acknowledged the excessive length of the proceedings (almost three and a half years of inaction on the part of the Toruń District Court) and granted the applicant PLN 300 (approx.73 euros (EUR) at that time) by way of just satisfaction, considering this amount to be “appropriate in the circumstances of the present case”.
3. The applicant’s claim for compensation related to the above complaint under the 2004 Act
On 11 May 2007 the applicant lodged a claim for payment against the State Treasury with the Toruń District Court. He submitted that the amount of compensation granted to him by the Toruń Regional Court for the excessive length of proceedings had been insufficient and sought PLN 10,000 in compensation. He also justified the claim for compensation with reference to his mental and emotional suffering, the violation of his personal rights caused by the excessive length of proceedings and the numerous procedural mistakes made by the Toruń Regional Court which had caused him to complain about the length of the proceedings.
At a hearing on 24 October 2007 the applicant limited his claim to PLN 600.
On 15 November 2007 the Toruń Regional Court dismissed his claim, finding it manifestly ill-founded and holding, in substance, that the applicant had not proved that he had suffered any financial loss.
On 23 November 2007 the applicant appealed.
On 27 February 2008 the Toruń Regional Court dismissed his appeal.
4. Proceedings against G.L. for payment of compensation
On 18 November 2004 the applicant lodged a claim against a certain G.L. with the Toruń District Court for payment of compensation.
On 22 December 2004 the applicant rectified procedural shortcomings in his claim.
On 4 July 2005 the Toruń District Court scheduled a hearing for 25 July 2005. At the request of the defendant’s lawyer the hearing was adjourned until 12 September 2005.
On 30 November 2007 the Toruń District Court allowed the applicant’s claim.
On 9 January 2008 G.L. appealed against the first-instance judgment.
On 27 February 2008 the Toruń Regional Court dismissed the appeal as manifestly ill-founded.
A cassation appeal was not available.
5. The applicant’s complaint under the 2004 Act in relation to the above proceedings
On 27 June 2005 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Toruń Regional Court under section 5 of the 2004 Act. He sought a ruling declaring that the length of the impugned proceedings had been excessive and seeking just satisfaction of PLN 8,000.
On 18 August 2005 the Toruń Regional Court acknowledged that the impugned proceedings had indeed been lengthy (several months of inaction on the part of the Toruń District Court) but refused to grant any just satisfaction, holding that, in spite of the court’s inactivity, the length of proceedings had been “relatively not that excessive”.
6. Proceedings against Z.Ł. for payment of just satisfaction for a violation of the applicant’s personal right
On 28 September 1998 the applicant lodged a claim for just satisfaction against a certain Z.Ł., with the Toruń District Court.
On 1 October 1998, taking into account the value of the applicant’s claim, the case file was transmitted to the Toruń Regional Court.
On 25 November 2003 the Toruń Regional Court gave judgment and dismissed the applicant’s claim.
On 29 January 2004 the applicant appealed.
On 17 June 2004 the Gdańsk Court of Appeal gave judgment and dismissed the appeal.
On 22 November 2004 the applicant requested the court to appoint a legal-aid lawyer to lodge a cassation appeal on his behalf with the Supreme Court.
On 27 December 2004 the Gdańsk Court of Appeal dismissed his request. The decision contained no reasons.
On 26 November 2004 the applicant requested the Gdańsk Court of Appeal to reopen the proceedings.
On 27 December 2004 the Gdańsk Court of Appeal rejected his request on account of a procedural mistake.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning remedies for the excessive length of judicial proceedings, in particular the applicable provisions of the 2004 Act, are stated in the Court’s decisions in the cases of Charzyński v. Poland (dec.), no. 15212/03, §§ 12-23, ECHR 2005-V, and Ratajczyk v. Poland (dec.), no. 11215/02, ECHR 2005-VIII, and the judgment in the case of Krasuski v. Poland, no. 61444/00, §§ 34-46, ECHR 2005-V.
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 all sets of proceedings in which he had been involved had been excessively long.
He also raised numerous complaints under Articles 1, 2, 6, 13 and 14 of the Convention in relation to those proceedings.
As regards the proceedings for protection of personal rights, he additionally complained that his right of access to a court had been violated, on the grounds that the Gdańsk Court of Appeal had refused to appoint a legal-aid lawyer to lodge a cassation appeal on his behalf and that the court’s decision had contained no reasoning.
On 31 October 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Roman Nadolski, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 24,000 (twenty four 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 and will be payable within three months of 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 16 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Jakub Wołąsiewicz, Agent of the Polish Government, declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 24,000 (twenty four thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Roman Nadolski 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 will be payable within three months of 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