Broniowski v. Poland (Broniowski II)

App. No. 31443/96, 2005-IX Eur. Ct. H.R. (2005)

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Broniowski v. Poland (Broniowski II)

European Court of Human Rights
App. No. 31443/96, 2005-IX Eur. Ct. H.R. (2005)

Facts

At the end of World War II, Poland (defendant) ceded land to Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania pursuant to several peace treaties. This transfer of land required 80,000 Polish citizens to abandon their properties. The Polish government developed a system of compensation that was supposed to enable the citizens to offset the value of the land they lost against the purchase of state properties. The Polish government was to determine the amount of credit to be applied to the purchases. However, the government limited the use of the credits to such a degree that the credits were basically worthless. Jerzy Broniowski (plaintiff) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (the court). The court considered Broniowki’s claim first, by which time there were already 167 other applications from Polish citizens stemming from this same issue. The sheer number of cases and potential cases threatened to overwhelm the court. For this reason, the court developed a pilot-judgment procedure similar in effect to a class action. The court found that Poland had violated Broniowski’s right to peaceful enjoyment of his property under the European Convention of Human Rights (the convention). Given that the issue that caused the violation was a systemic problem, the court ordered Poland to develop individual and national measures to remedy the widespread problem. The goal of the pilot-judgment procedure was to help Poland resolve the problems domestically, secure convention rights, provide a speedier remedy for claimants, and eliminate the need for the court to adjudicate large numbers of claims arising out of the same problem. The court determined that the issue of damages for Broniowski was not ready and adjourned the case. Subsequently, Poland’s constitutional court ruled against the government in a challenge to the subject restrictions, and the parliament passed new legislation providing an avenue for compensation for the affected citizens. The Polish government and Broniowski then submitted a proposal for a friendly settlement to the court. The settlement had provisions for Broniowski in particular, and it also contained general provisions in response to the systemic issues highlighted in the principal judgment. In a subsequent proceeding, the court considered whether it should strike Broniowski’s application from its docket in view of the friendly settlement.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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