Published: 22 Jun 2004

Broniowski v Poland

Case Summary

Case No. 31443/96

Judgment Date: 22/6/2004

The applicant’s grandmother owned land in an area formerly part of Poland but now forming part of Ukraine. She was entitled to compensation from the Polish state by virtue of the international agreement under which the territory changed hands, and also under subsequent legislation. The applicant inherited his grandmother’s claim through his mother. In 1981 the applicant’s mother was granted a lease of land, the value of which was offset against the compensation due. The applicant inherited his mother’s property and in 1992 sold the lease and applied to the Cracow District Court for an award of the remainder of the compensation. A later Government valuation (in 2003) found that the grant of the lease amounted to 2% of the total compensation.

In 1993 the Cracow District Office informed that applicant that it could not satisfy his claim because by virtue of 1990 legislation, any available land had been transferred to the Cracow Municipality.

In 1994 the Cracow Governor’s Office informed the applicant that the State Treasury had no land for the purposes of providing compensation. The applicant filed a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court alleging inactivity on the part of the Government in failing to introduce legislation and seeking alternative compensation. The Supreme Court rejected the complaint.

In July 2002, the Ombudsman, acting on behalf of repatriated persons, made an application to the Constitutional Court seeking legal provisions restricting their right to compensation to be declared unconstitutional. This application was granted and the judgment took effect in 2003. In January 2003, the Military Property Agency, which had previously been engaged in the auctioning of property, the value of which could be offset against compensation due, issued a communiqué announcing that the Constitutional Court judgment would require amendment to other legislation and that until that had taken place further auctions of property would be suspended. The State Treasury’s Agricultural Property Agency issued a similar communiqué.

On 12 December 2003, a law was passed dealing with the offsetting of the price of State property sold by auction against compensation due. The December 2003 Act provided that the State’s obligations towards persons who, like the applicant, had already obtained some compensatory property under previous statutes, were deemed to have been discharged.

The applicant alleged a breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention of Human Rights in that his entitlement to compensation for property abandoned had not been satisfied.

 

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