Case Law - strike the cases out of its list (06/10/2008)
Authority: European Authorities: European Court of human rights
Subject: First “pilot judgment” procedure brought to a successful conclusion, Bug River cases closed.
The European Court of Human Rights has just struck out the remaining 176 “Bug River” (sprawy zabużańskie) cases against Poland, finding that the Polish Government has successfully put in place an effective compensation scheme which is available to the nearly 80,000 people forced to abandon their properties between 1944 and 1953 in the eastern provinces of pre-war Poland.
In its Grand Chamber judgment Broniowski v. Poland (application no. 31443/96) (22 June 2004), the Court held not only that there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European Convention on Human Rights in the applicant’s case but also that Poland was to take steps to ensure Bug River claimants in general were properly compensated. This was the first time that the Court had used what has become known as a “pilot judgment” procedure as a device for dealing with systemic problems. Following that judgment, in July 2005 the Polish Government passed a new law setting the ceiling for compensation for Bug River property at 20% of its original value.
On 4 December 2007 in its decisions striking out the cases Wolkenberg and Others v. Poland, (no. 50003/99) and Witkowska-Tobola v. Poland (no. 11208/02), the Court established that the new Bug River compensation scheme satisfied the requirements set out in its judgment in Broniowski v. Poland. Subsequently, the Court struck out a further 110 cases. The remaining 176 cases have now been struck out in a global decision marking the end of the Court’s “pilot-judgment” procedure in this case.
Having concluded that the new compensation scheme was effective in practice, the Court has now decided that the continued application of the pilot-judgment procedure in the case is no longer justified.
Similar complaints continue, however, to be lodged every month and as a result the Court is called upon to give individual decisions in cases where the Convention issue has been resolved at domestic level. The Court does not therefore rule out in the future declining to examine such cases
Parties: 176 cases c/ Poland
Classification: Freedoms - Art. 17 Right to property