by Sławomir Andrzej KULIGOWSKI
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 2 June 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 22 October 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Sławomir Andrzej Kuligowski, is a Polish national who was born in 1959 and lives in Łódź. 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 31 October 1996 the applicant was indicted before the Łódź District Court (Sąd Rejonowy). He was charged with robbery and receipt of stolen goods.
Between 16 December 1996 and 16 July 1997 the court held four hearings.
On 27 October 1998 the court stayed the proceedings due to the absence of one witness, whose whereabouts were unknown.
On 23 October 2002 the court resumed the proceedings.
On 3 December 2002, 12 March and 7 July 2003 the court held hearings.
On 7 May 2004 the court stayed the proceedings, since the whereabouts of the defence witness were unknown.
After futile attempts to establish the witness’s address, the court resumed the proceedings on 25 November 2005, stating that there was a pressing need to continue the proceedings.
In the meantime the judge who was presiding over the trial had been transferred to another division and a new judge was assigned to the case. The trial was restarted.
On 4 May 2006 the court held a hearing.
On 23 February 2007 the District Court gave judgment finding the applicant guilty.
On 2 October 2007 the Łódź Regional Court (Sąd Okręgowy) quashed the first-instance judgment and remitted the case.
On 28 November 2007 the Łódź District Court held a hearing.
On 5 December 2007 the court gave judgment. The applicant was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment. He did not lodge an appeal.
2. Proceedings under the 2004 Act
On 18 October 2007 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Łódź Regional Court under 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 Łódź District Court had been excessive and an award of just satisfaction in the amount of 10,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) (approx. 2,500 euros (EUR)).
On 7 December 2007 the Łódź Regional Court gave a decision in which it acknowledged the excessive length of the proceedings before the Łódź District Court, finding that the trial court had not dealt promptly with the case. The court stated that the case had not been complex. Furthermore, it questioned the grounds for staying the proceedings twice for such long periods of time as well as the fact that the case had been assigned to another judge.
It awarded the applicant PLN 1,000 (approx. EUR 280) in just satisfaction. The court observed that the claim for just satisfaction in the amount of PLN 10,000 was excessive.
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.
On 20 April 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Sławomir Andrzej Kuligowski, note that the Government of Poland are prepared to pay me the sum of PLN 10,000 (ten 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 21 April 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 10,000 (ten thousand Polish zlotys) to Mr Sławomir Andrzej Kuligowski 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.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President