FIRST SECTION

DECISION

Application no. 40855/04 
by Josef HAAS 
against Austria

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 1 June 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr L. Loucaides, President
 Mrs F. Tulkens,

Mrs N. Vajić, 
 Mrs E. Steiner
 Mr K. Hajiyev
 Mr D. Spielmann, 
 Mr S.E. Jebens, judges,

and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 16 November 2004,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Josef Haas, is an Austrian national, who lives in Gattenberg. He was represented before the Court by Mr E. Stöger, a lawyer practising in Innsbruck. The Austrian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ambassador F. Trauttmansdorff, Head of the International Law Department at the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

On 14 January 2000 the Schwaz District Authority (Bezirkshaupt-mannschaft) referring to the Forestry Act (Forstgesetz) ordered the applicant to reforest parts of his land and to carry out works which should prevent that damage be caused to his neighbours’ forests.

On an unspecified date the applicant appealed.

On 7 July 2000 the Tirol Regional Governor (Landeshauptmann) dismissed the appeal.

On 30 August 2000 the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof), upon the applicant’s complaint of 7 July 2000, opened proceedings and requested the Regional Governor to file observations.

On 28 September 2000 the Regional Governor commented on the case.

On 13 October 2000 the Agricultural Association Stumm – Stummerberg (Agrargemeinschaft), being an interested third party (mitbeteiligte Partei) filed its observations.

On 5 April 2004 the Administrative Court dismissed the applicant’s complaint. The decision was served on 17 May 2004.

COMPLAINT 

The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention about the length of proceedings.

THE LAW

On 2 February 2006 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:

“I declare that the Government of Austria offer to pay 3,500 euros to Josef Haas 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 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 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.”

Meanwhile, on 23 January 2006, the Court had received the following declaration from the applicant’s lawyer:

“I note that the Government of Austria are prepared to pay the sum of 3,500 euros to Josef Haas 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 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 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 Austria in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. I declare that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”

The Court reiterates the terms of Article 37 § 1 of the Convention which, so far as relevant, reads as follows:

“1.  The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that

(a)  the applicant does not intend to pursue his application; or

(b)  the matter has been resolved; ...

However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto so requires.”

The Court takes note of the agreement reached between the parties and considers that the applicant no longer intends to pursue his application and that the matter has been resolved. 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 examination of the application to be continued. Accordingly, the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should be discontinued and the case struck out of the list in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (a) and (b) of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and to strike the application out of its list of cases.

Søren Nielsen Loukis Loucaides 
 Registrar President

HAAS v. AUSTRIA DECISION


HAAS v. AUSTRIA DECISION