by Erki BRANDT
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 12 May 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Ann Power, judges,
and Santiago Quesada, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 January 2006,
Having regard to the partial decision of 16 September 2008,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Erki Brandt, is a Swedish national who was born in 1945 and lives in Borås. The Swedish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms C. Hellner, of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
In May 1992 the applicant was informed by the judge responsible for bankruptcies at the District Court (tingsrätten) in Borås that he would no longer be given any assignments as receiver (konkursförvaltare) in bankruptcy cases before that court or the District Court in Sjuhäradsbygden.
According to the applicant, he had worked as a receiver since 1984 and this had been the main source of income for his law firm. He therefore made several attempts to resolve the matter, however, without success. Consequently, he requested the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern) to grant him compensation from the State in the amount of SEK 4,750,000.
On 30 May 1994 the Chancellor of Justice rejected the request for compensation. He observed that the applicant did not have any legally founded claim actually to be given appointments as a receiver in bankruptcy cases. Moreover, he considered that the handling of the matter by the two district courts and the Enforcement Service (in its role as supervisory authority for bankruptcies) had not been made in the exercise of public authority (myndighetsutövning). Thus, the State was not responsible for the applicant’s economic losses.
On 9 December 1994 the applicant brought an action for damages against the Swedish State before the Court of Appeal (hovrätten) of Western Sweden. He claimed, inter alia, damages of SEK 5,900,000. He alleged that the State, through the two district courts and the Enforcement Service, had caused him substantial loss of income through their “decision” not to grant him any further assignments as a receiver, thereby ruining his business. He further argued that this “decision” had been made in the exercise of public authority.
The case was communicated to the Chancellor of Justice, who represents the Swedish State in such matters. The Chancellor of Justice disputed the applicant’s claim, referring to the reasoning in his decision of 30 May 1994. He further requested the Court of Appeal to establish first through an intermediate judgment (mellandom) whether liability for damages did at all exist for the State in the present case.
In a decision of 26 July 1995 the Court of Appeal acceded to the Chancellor of Justice’s request for an intermediate judgment on the question of whether the State was liable for damages towards the applicant.
On 1 July 1998, after having received further submissions from the parties and having held an oral hearing, the Court of Appeal found that the State was not liable for damages towards the applicant. Although the court considered that the measure agreed upon by the representatives of the two district courts and the Enforcement Service had been made in the exercise of public authority, it found that it had not been shown that such fault or neglect had been committed which could entail liability of the State for damages.
The applicant appealed against the intermediate judgment to the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) which, on 11 July 2001, upheld the Court of Appeal’s judgment in full and sent the case back to the lower court for final judgment.
On 20 December 2001, after having held an oral hearing, the Court of Appeal rejected the applicant’s claim for damages since the Supreme Court had finally decided that the State was not liable for damages towards him.
In January 2002 the applicant appealed against the judgment to the Supreme Court which, on 14 July 2005, rejected his appeal and upheld the lower court’s judgment.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the proceedings for damages had been excessive since they had lasted for more than ten years.
After communication and receipt of the Government’s observation, the applicant informed the Court by letter of 23 February 2009 that he withdrew the application as he recognised that he had failed to exhaust domestic remedies in relation to his complaint about the length of the proceedings.
The Court notes that the applicant no longer intend to pursue his case. In these circumstances, and having regard to Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention, the Court is of the opinion that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the continued examination of the case. 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.
Santiago Quesada Josep Casadevall