FOURTH SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 72164/01 
by Elżbieta WARDĘSZKIEWICZ 
against Poland

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 5 January 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mr J. Casadevall
 Mr G. Bonello
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr S. Pavlovschi
 Mr L. Garlicki, 
 Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges 
and Mr M. O'Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 18 August 2000,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Ms Elżbieta Wardęszkiewicz, is a Polish national who was born in 1948 and lives in Łódź.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

1. The part of the proceedings held in the Labour Law Division:

On 10 July 1991 the applicant filed a civil action with the Łódź Regional Court, Labour Law Division. The applicant was a victim of chemical poisoning to which she had been exposed while she was performing her job (she took part in a rescue action as a doctor). She sued both her former employer (the ambulance station) and the company responsible for the chemical accident. She sought a civil law pension, damages and just satisfaction. The criminal responsibility for the accident as well as the fact that the applicant was its victim had already been established by the criminal court.

On 5 September 1991 the first hearing was held.

Subsequent hearings were held on: 3 December 1991, 20 December 1991, 26 May 1992, 29 June 1992, 30 July 1992, 3 November 1992.

On 24 November 1992 the Łódź Regional Court gave a judgment by which it ordered the former employer to pay a civil law pension to the applicant and dismissed the remainder of the action instituted against the former employer. In addition, it transferred the part of the action lodged against the company liable for the accident to another court as it found itself not competent to examine the case. It found that it was the Civil Division, not the Labour Law Division, that should deal with the part of the action against the company responsible for the accident. Both the applicant and the opponent appealed.

On 31 March 1993 the Łódź Court of Appeal upheld the judgment. In the written grounds it stated inter alia that the transfer of the part of the action to another court was not consistent with relevant legal provision. However as, according to the Polish law, this was not subject to an appeal, the Łódź Court of Appeal did not decide on this issue.

2. The part of the proceedings held in the Civil Division:

On 21 September 1993 the Łódź Regional Court was served with the files which had been transferred to that court on the strength of the judgment of 24 November 1992.

On 4 November 1993 the first hearing was held. On 16 March 1995 the next hearing was held, during which the Łódź Regional Court ordered that her case history should be submitted by hospitals where the applicant had undergone medical treatment although the applicant's case history had already been attached to the file.

On 14 February 1993 the next hearing was held, during which the Łódź Regional Court admitted the evidence of various medical experts.

Subsequent hearings took place on 16 March 1995, 14 February 1996 and 18 February 1997.

On 5 June 1997 the Łódź Regional Court admitted additional medical experts' opinions.

On 17 March 1999, after all the required opinions had been submitted, the next hearing was held. The Łódź Regional Court decided to call one of the doctors who had given an opinion for questioning.

On 21 April 1999 the Łódź Regional Court closed the proceedings as it found that the case was ready for examination.

On 29 April 1999 the Łódź Regional Court opened the proceedings anew in order to admit fresh evidence and fixed the date of the next hearing for 31 May 1999.

On 31 May 1999 the Łódź Regional Court heard some of the doctors who had given opinions.

On 14 June 1999 the Łódź Regional Court gave a judgment, by which it ordered just satisfaction and a civil law pension to be paid to the applicant, and included an enforcement clause. Both the applicant and the opponent appealed as to the merits; the opponent also challenged the enforcement clause.

On 2 August 1999 the Łódź Regional Court quashed the enforcement clause. The applicant appealed.

On 9 November 1999 the Łódź Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant's appeal concerning the enforcement clause.

On 12 September 2000 the Łódź Court of Appeal upheld the first-instance judgment as to the merits.

On an unknown date the applicant instituted enforcement proceedings in order to execute the judgment.

On 2 January 2001 The Łódź District Court declared the opponent to be a bankrupt. As a consequence of this, the enforcement proceedings instituted by the applicant in order to execute the judgment of 12 September 2000 were discontinued. On an unknown date in February 2001 the applicant was informed by the official receiver that due to the lack of sufficient financial means of the debtor, her claims would not be satisfied.

COMPLAINTS

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

The applicant also complains under Article 6 in substance about the outcome of the proceedings.

THE LAW

1. The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 about the excessive length of civil proceedings.

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

2. The applicant complains about the outcome of the proceedings. She relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, in so far as relevant:

“1.  In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

The Court reiterates at the outset that it is not its task to take the place of the domestic courts. It is primarily for the national authorities, notably the courts, to resolve problems of interpretation of domestic legislation (see, among many other authorities, the following judgments: Brualla Gómez de la Torre v. Spain, 19 December 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1997-VIII, p. 2955, § 31; Edificaciones March Gallego S.A. v. Spain, 19 February 1998, Reports 1998-I, p. 290, § 33). Further, there is nothing in the case file to suggest that the courts were not impartial or that the proceedings were unfair in any other way, in particular, as the courts' findings were not arbitrary or unreasonable.

It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 as being manifestly ill-founded.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant's complaint concerning the excessive length of the civil proceedings;

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

Michael O'Boyle Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

WARDĘSZKIEWICZ v. POLOGNE DECISION


WARDĘSZKIEWICZ v. POLOGNE DECISION