by Zbigniew WRÓBEL
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 26 May 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 1 May 2004,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Zbigniew Wróbel, is a Polish national who was born in 1955 and lives in Dylągówka. 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.
On an unspecified date Kredyt Bank S.A. lodged a claim for payment against the applicant and four other defendants with the Rzeszów Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy). The bank relied on a warrant which had been issued by the applicant and secured by the other defendants.
On 14 November 2001 the Rzeszów Regional Court granted the claim and made an order of payment.
On 30 November 2001 the applicant’s lawyer appealed against the order.
On 10 January 2002 the applicant and the other defendants were exempted from court fees for the appeal.
On 9 July 2002 the Rzeszów Regional Court upheld the challenged order of payment.
On an unspecified date the applicant’s lawyer appealed.
On 13 November 2002 the Rzeszów Court of Appeal (Sąd Apelacyjny) quashed the first-instance judgment and remitted the case to the Regional Court.
On 11 June 2003 the Rzeszów Regional Court again upheld the challenged order of payment.
On 26 August 2003 the Rzeszów Regional Court granted the applicant exemption from court fees in the appellate proceedings.
On 7 November 2003 the applicant and the other defendants appealed against the judgment of 11 June 2003.
On 11 December 2003 the Rzeszów Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.
On 13 December 2003 the applicant and the other defendants requested the Court of Appeal to assign them a legal-aid lawyer to lodge a cassation appeal on their behalf with the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy). They submitted that owing to their poor financial situation they were not able to bear the costs of the cassation appeal themselves.
On 15 January 2004 the Rzeszów Court of Appeal dismissed the request. The court’s decision did not contain any reasoning.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning the granting of legal aid and the lodging of cassation appeals are stated in the Court’s judgment in Tabor v. Poland, no. 12825/02, §§ 16-23, 27 June 2006.
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 and Article 13 of the Convention of a violation of his right of access to a court on the grounds that the Rzeszów Court of Appeal had refused to appoint a legal-aid lawyer who would lodge a cassation appeal on his behalf and that the court’s decisions had contained no reasoning.
He also submitted a complaint under Article 6 § 1 and Article 17 of the Convention about the alleged unfairness of the proceedings in which he had been involved.
On 9 January 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Zbigniew Wróbel, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 7,800 (seven thousand eight 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 6 April 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Jakub Wołąsiewicz, Agent of the Government of Poland, declare that the Government of Poland offer to pay PLN 7,800 (seven thousand eight hundred Polish zlotys) to Mr Zbigniew Wróbel 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 at the rate applicable on the date of payment, and 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.”
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