CASE OF SEPCZYŃSKI v. POLAND (European Court of Human Rights)

FIRST SECTION
CASE OF SEPCZYŃSKI[1] v. POLAND
(Application no. 78352/14)

JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
26 April 2018

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Sepczyński[2] v. Poland,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Aleš Pejchal, President,
Krzysztof Wojtyczek,
Jovan Ilievski, judges,
and Renata Degener, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 3 April 2018,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1.  The case originated in an application (no. 78352/14) against the Republic of Poland lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Polish national, MrArturSepczyński[3] (“the applicant”), on 26November 2014.

2.  The Polish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms J. Chrzanowskaof the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

3.  On 13 October 2015 the complaints under Article 3 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Conventionwere communicated to the Government.

4.  The Government objected to the examination of the application by a Committee. After having considered the Government’s objection, the Court rejected it.

THE FACTS

I.  THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

5.  The applicant was born in 1987 and lives in Łomża.

A.  The applicant’s accident and deprivation of liberty

6.  On 7August 2010 the applicant had a motorcycle accident in which he broke his right arm and right thigh. Between 13 and 22 December 2010 the applicant underwentan arthroscopy on his right knee. Between 25 January and 15February 2011 the applicant underwent rehabilitationtreatment in ŁomżaRegional Hospital and during this stay no dysfunction was diagnosed in his right foot.

7.  Subsequently, between 28 March and 26 July 2011,he was detained in Białystok Remand Centre. While in prison, he was examined three times (on 1 and 18 April and on 13 May 2011) by an orthopaedist, who observed that the applicant required physical therapy in the light of a limitation of his knee-joint movement, the atrophy of a thigh muscle, and an injury to a peroneal nerve. On 11 April 2011 the applicant was examined by a neurologist who likewise found atrophy of the thigh muscle and impairedbending of the right foot, which he attributed toan injury to the peroneal nerve. The applicant never received any physical therapy during his imprisonment, insteadbeing offered only nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.

B.  Civil proceedings against the State Treasury

8.  On an unspecified date, but not later than 27 March 2012, the applicant brought a civil action against the State Treasury/Białystok Remand Centre for infringement of his personal rights, claiming that the prison healthcare system had failed to provide him with appropriate medical care during his detention and, moreover, that the cells had not met the minimum spatial requirement of 3 square metres per person and had been mouldy and infested with insects. He requested 200,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) in compensation, the equivalent of approximately 48,300 euros (EUR).

9.  On 27March 2012 the Białystok Regional Court (SądOkręgowy) exempted the applicant from the court fees.

10.  On 20 January 2014 the Białystok Regional Court granted the applicant PLN 23,000(approximately EUR 5,550) and dismissed the remainder of his action. The court held, particularly on the basis of the medical expert opinion, that the applicant had had a motorcycle accident and had required physical therapy as recommended by the prison orthopaedist. However, he had not been given any, either in prison or outside, which had resulted in a deterioration of his health. The court established that, due to the lack of physical therapy, the applicant had suffered atrophy of the thigh muscle and foot drop affecting hisright foot. The court compared this finding with the fact that upon his arrival the applicant had not been suffering from foot drop, the pain in his knee had not been severe, and his right leg muscles had been workingmore effectively. The court emphasised that the applicant had not been offered proper treatment despite a worsening of his symptoms. These changes in his physical condition would not have been irreversible, but the break in the therapy had entailed a prolonged rehabilitation process. The court stated that the rehabilitation process for the applicant would be long and arduous,a situation which could have been avoided had the defendant acted appropriately. The court held that the applicant had suffered physical pain of significant seriousness, which, in turn, had hadnegative psychological consequences.The court therefore found the applicant’s claim for compensation for lack of adequate medical care partly justified. The claim concerning the alleged overcrowding and inadequate sanitary conditions was dismissed in full. The court also ordered the applicant to reimburse PLN 3,186 (EUR 766) for the costs of the defendant’s legal representation and PLN 10,932 (EUR 2,628) in court fees (in total: PLN 14,118 (EUR 3,394)).

11.  The applicant did not lodge an appeal against the first-instance judgment.

12.  Following the defendant’s appeal against the judgment, on 12 September 2014 the Białystok Court of Appeal (SądApelacyjny) amended the judgment, reduced the compensation granted to the applicant to PLN 13,000 (EUR 3,095), and upheld the first-instance court’s findings of fact and law. The applicant was not ordered to pay the court fees for the proceedings before that court. This court pointed out that in the experts’ opinions it was not specified, even approximately, what the effects of the negligence might be, how much longer the rehabilitation process would take, or how much stronger the pain had become in comparison to pain experienced previously by the applicant.

II.  RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE

A.  Medical care in detention

13.  The relevant provisions of domestic law concerning medical care in prisons and remand centres are set out in the Court’s judgments in SławomirMusiałv. Poland, no. 28300/06, §§ 48 and 51-53, 20 January 2009;Kaprykowski v. Poland, no. 23052/05, §§ 36-39, 3 February 2009; andBujak v. Poland,no. 686/12, §§ 51-52, 21 March 2017.

B.  Provisions regulating the State Treasury’s liability in tort

14.  The relevant provisions of domestic law concerning civil-law provisions which regulate the State Treasury’s liability in tort are set out in the Court’s ruling in Orchowski v.Poland, no.17885/04, § 78, 22 October 2009.

C.  Court fees

15.  Under Polish law, everyone except public authorities and institutions is obliged to pay a court fee when lodging a claim with the competent civil court. As a case progresses, a party is obliged to pay additional court fees when lodging any further appeals.

16.  Article98 of the Code of Civil Procedure reads as follows:

“The costs of litigation necessary for the effective conduct of a case are borne by the unsuccessful party to the proceedings. The costs of litigation comprise the court fees referred to above, legal fees paid to professional legal representatives, and various other items of expenditure incurred in connection with the proceedings, such as transport costs and loss of earnings as a result of participation in the hearings.”

17.  Article 100 of the Code, as far as relevant, reads as follows:

“In case of partial granting of the claims, the costs shall be mutually cancelled out or proportionally divided.”

18.  An exception to this general principle is provided for in Article 101 of the Code. Pursuant to this provision:

“The court may not order the losing defendant to pay the costs of litigation if he or she did not cause the proceedings to be instituted and acknowledged the claim at a first hearing.”

19.  The scope of operation of the general principle whereby the unsuccessful party bears the litigation costs, as referred to above, is also mitigated by Article 102 of the Code. This provision enshrines the principle of equity in respect of litigation costs and stipulates that:

“The court may order the losing party to pay only a part of the litigation costs, or may exempt it altogether from the obligation to pay these costs, where the particular circumstances of the case justify such a decision.”

20.  The amounts of court fees in civil cases are regulated in the Law of 28 July 2005 on Court Fees in Civil Cases (Ustawaokosztachsądowych w sprawachcywilnych). Article 13(1) provides:

“In cases concerning proprietary interests a proportionate fee shall be collected; it shall amount to five percent of the value of the claim or of subject of an appeal, but not less than PLN 30 and not more than PLN 100,000.”

21.  Lawyers’ fees at the material time were determined by the Ordinance of the Minister of Justice of 28 September 2002 on lawyers’ fees and on the rules of covering the costs of free legal aid by the State Treasury (rozporządzenieMinistraSprawiedliwościz dnia28września2002 r. w sprawieopłatzaczynnościadwokackieorazponoszeniaprzezSkarbPaństwakosztównieopłaconejpomocyprawnejudzielonej z urzędu). Section 6 read:

“The minimum fees are, depending on the amount in dispute:

1) up to PLN 500 – PLN 60;

2) more than PLN 500 up to PLN 1,500 – PLN 180;

3) more thanPLN 1,500up toPLN 5,000-PLN 600;

4) more than PLN 5,000 up to PLN 10,000 – PLN 1,200;

5) more than PLN 10,000up to PLN 50,000 – PLN 2,400;

6) more than PLN 50,000up to PLN 200,000 – PLN 3,600;

7) more than PLN 200,000 – PLN 7,200.”

THE LAW

I.  ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION

22.  The applicant complained that the inadequate medical care which had been provided by the prison healthcare system during his detention in Białystok Remand Centre amounted to treatment contrary to Article3 of the Convention, which reads as follows:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

A.  Admissibility

1.  The parties’ submissions

(a)  The Government

23.  The Government raised a preliminary objection that the applicant could no longer claim to be a victim of a violation of the Convention within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention. In their opinion, the domestic courts had acknowledged that there had beena breach of the applicant’s rights guaranteed by the Convention and he had been awarded proper compensation for the damage he had sustained. Additionally, the Government noted that the applicant had not appealed against the first‑instance judgment, which had deprived him of victim status. The Government requested that the application be declared inadmissible under Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

24.  Furthermore, the Government argued that the applicant had not exhausted all possible remedies for this complaint, because he had not lodged an appeal against the judgment of the first-instance court, including the court’s decision on the court fees which he was to pay.

(b)  The applicant

25.  The applicant maintained his complaint.

2.  The Court’s assessment

(a)  Victim status

26.  The Court reiterates that it falls, firstly, to the national authorities to redress any violation of the Convention. In this regard, the question of whether an applicant can claim to be the victim of the alleged violation is relevant at all stages of the proceedings under the Convention. A decision or measure favourable to the applicant is not, in principle, sufficient to deprive him of his status as a “victim” for the purposes of Article34 of the Convention unless the national authorities have acknowledged, either expressly or in substance‒ and then afforded redress for ‒the breach of the Convention (Gäfgen v.Germany [GC], no.22978/05, § 115, ECHR 2010 with further references).

27.  In the present case, the applicant sued the State, claiming that the defendant had failed to provide him with adequate medical care during his detention in Białystok Remand Centre. The Białystok Regional Court acknowledged that the lack of physical therapy had causeda deteriorationin the applicant’s health, as well as physical and mental suffering (see paragraph 10 above). The Regional Court’s findings were confirmed on appeal (see paragraph 12 above).

28.  The Court is therefore satisfied that the national authorities have acknowledged a breach of the Convention in the relevant part regarding the lack of adequate medical care, which is the core element of the applicant’s complaint before the Court.

29.  It follows that the only issue which remains to be determined with regard to this complaint is whether the authorities provided sufficient redress.

30.  The Białystok Regional Court awarded the applicant the equivalent of EUR 5,550, considering that amount to be adequate. That court also ordered the applicant to pay the equivalent of EUR 3,394 towards the cost of the proceedings (see paragraph 10above). However, upon an appeal lodged by the defendant, the Białystok Court of Appeal changed the amount of compensation to the equivalent of EUR 3,095 (see paragraph 12 above), meaning that the compensation was wholly consumed by the court fees.

31.  In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the applicant can still claim to be a victim of a violation of the substantive aspect of Article 3 on account of lack of adequate medical care. It therefore dismisses the Government’s preliminary objection alleging that the applicant had lost his victim status.

(b)  Exhaustion of domestic remedies

32.  The Government submitted that the applicant had not exhausted all available domestic remedies because he did not lodge an appeal against the judgment of the court of first instance.

33.  The Court recalls that only those remedies which are effective and adequate are to be exhausted (Sejdovic v. Italy [GC], no. 56581/00, § 45, ECHR 2006-II). It notes that although it was the judgment of the court of first instance that ordered the applicant to pay the court fees, it also awarded him significantly higher compensation than that awarded by the Court of Appeal. The fees at that point constituted approximately sixty percent of the amount awarded.

34.  It should be noted that it was only after the Court of Appeal’sjudgment that the fees became higher than the compensation awarded, but at that time the applicant had no remedy against the level of the fees ordered by the Regional Court.

35.  The Court therefore dismissesthe Government’s objection concerning non-exhaustion of domestic remedies with regard to the complaint under Article 3 of the Convention.

(c)  Conclusions as regards admissibility

36.  The Court considers that this complaint is not manifestly ill‑founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further finds that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.

B.  Merits

1.  The parties’ submissions

37.  The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention of inadequate medical care during his detention in Białystok Detention Centre, which resulted in a deterioration of his health.

38.  The Government refrained from taking a position with regard to the merits of the case under Article 3 of the Convention.

2.  The Court’s assessment

(a)  General principles

39.  As the Court has held on many occasions, Article 3 of the Convention enshrines one of the most fundamental values of democratic society. It prohibits in absolute terms torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, irrespective of the circumstances and the victim’s behaviour (see Kudłav. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 90, ECHR 2000‑XI, and the authorities cited therein).

40.  However, ill-treatment must attain a minimum level of severity if it is to fall within the scope of Article3. The assessment of this minimum is, in the nature of things, relative; it depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the nature and context of the treatment, the manner and method of its execution, its duration, its physical or mental effects and, in some instances, the sex, age and state of health of the victim (see Kudłav. Poland, cited above, § 91, and the authorities cited therein).

41.  The Court reiterates that a State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are compatible with respect for his or her human dignity, that the manner and method of the execution of the measure do not subject him to distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that, given the practical demands of imprisonment, his health and well-being are adequately secured by, among other things, providing him with the requisite medical assistance (see Kudłav. Poland, cited above, § 94, and the authorities cited therein).

(b)  Application of the above principles to the present case

42.  The Court notes that the applicant was examined by an orthopaedist shortly after his arrival in the Białystok Remand Centre and on two further occasions, and also by a neurologist (see paragraph 7 above). His condition and his treatment needs were therefore known to the authorities of the Białystok Remand Centre. Despite the doctors’ recommendations and the worsening of his symptoms, the applicant never received physical therapy andwas thus deprived of proper medical care throughout his detention.

43.  The Court reiterates that the domestic courts, relying on a report by an independent expert, confirmed that the applicant had not received adequate medical care during his detention. In particular, he had not been provided with the requisite physical therapy. This led to a deterioration of the applicant’s health (atrophy of the right thigh muscle and right foot drop), which, although not constituting permanent damage, was considered by the domestic courts to be a source of significant physical and psychological suffering for the applicant. The courts also established that because of the lack of physical therapy, the overall rehabilitation process was of longer duration, although it was not specified how much longer (see paragraph12 above).

44.  The applicant was aware that his health was deteriorating and at the same time witnessed the authorities’ inactivity in providing him with physical therapy. This must have been a source of additional distress and anxiety for him, as he could not foresee whether therapy would be ever provided, and whether the lack of it would have any lasting effects on his health.

45.  In the Court’s opinion the lack of adequate medical treatment in Białystok Remand Centre, in particularthe fact that the applicant’s medically confirmed needs were never addressed by the prison authorities, which resulted ina deterioration of his health, as referred to above, undermined the applicant’s dignity and caused suffering beyond that inevitably associated with the deprivation of his liberty.

46.  In conclusion, the Court considers that the applicant’s continued detention without adequate medical treatment amounted to degrading treatment, in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

II.  ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1 TO THE CONVENTION

47.  The applicant complained that his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions had been breached. He referred to Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, which reads:

“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

48.  The applicant allegedthat the amount of the court fees he had been ordered to pay had fullyabsorbed the compensation he had been granted, which meant that he had been deprived of his award.

A.  Admissibility

1.  The parties’ submissions

(a)  The Government

49.  The Government raised a preliminary objection that the matter of the decision on the costs of the proceedings in which the applicant sought compensation did not fall within the scope of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, since it did not affect the applicant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. In the Government’s opinion, the applicant did not have a specific property right to the adjudicated compensation as the first-instance court’s ruling was not final.

(b)  The applicant

50.  The applicant maintained his complaint.

2.  The Court’s assessment

51.  The Court reiterates that the obligation to pay court fees – and the corresponding regulation – is covered by the second paragraph of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, as the fees are “contributions” within the meaning of that provision (Perdigão v.Portugal [GC], no.24768/06, §61, 16 November 2010). However, there remains thequestion of whether and to what extent the order to pay the court fees concerned can be considered to have amounted to an interference with the applicant’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions, as the money the applicant was ordered to pay in court fees fully absorbed the compensation awarded for the lack of adequate medical care, which amounted to a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

52.  The Court reiterates that an applicant may allege a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 only in so far as the impugned decisions relate to his or her “possessions” within the meaning of that provision. “Possessions” can be “existing possessions” or claims that are sufficiently established to be regarded as “assets”. A claim may be regarded as an asset only when it is sufficiently established to be enforceable (see, for example, Stran Greek Refineries and StratisAndreadis v.Greece, 9 December 1994, § 59, Series A no. 301‑B). As the applicant’s claim for compensation in the present case was acknowledged in the amount awarded to him by the final judgment of Białystok Court of Appeal of 12September 2014, the Court considers that this claim was sufficiently established to qualify as an “asset” protected by Article1 of Protocol No. 1.

53.  The Court therefore dismisses the Government’s preliminary objection.

54.  The Court considers that this complaint is not manifestly ill‑founded within the meaning of Article35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further finds that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.

B.  Merits

1.  The parties’ submissions

(a)  The applicant

55.  The applicant complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention that the compensation he had received had been whollyconsumed by the court fees he had been ordered to pay.

(b)  The Government

56.  The Government stated that,should the Court find that the order to pay the court fees out of the granted compensation fell within the scope of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, the interference in the instant case was proportionate and did not constitutea violation of the applicant’s property rights.

57.  The Government submitted that the court’s decision on costs in a final judgment depended on the outcome of the proceedings, in particular the extent to which the applicant had won the case. They submitted that the applicant had claimed compensationof a very significant amount, althougha party to civil proceedings who requests exemption from court fees is obliged to bring claims of a balanced amount. Relying on the Court’s case Kupiec v.Poland (no.16828/02, 3 February 2009), the Government argued that applicants who deliberately inflate the value of their claims for compensation cannot be expected to be exempted entirely from the payment of court fees or from the requirement to contribute a reasonable amount toward the costs of taking the action. They stressed that the applicant’s successin the proceedings amounted toonly six and a half percent of his claim. The decision on court fees met the requirements of transparency, predictability and accessibility.

58.  In the Government’s opinion, the obligation to pay the court fees imposed on the applicant was necessary and proportionate, since it resulted from a lack of prudence and restraint on the applicant’s part as to the amount of the claim. They furthermore argued that States enjoyed wide margin of appreciation in introducing legislation to secure the payment of “contributions”.

59.  Lastly, the Government noted that the instant case differs from Perdigão (cited above), because the applicant did not initiate the proceedings in the context of deprivation of property and was a party to civil proceedings as opposed to a public-law dispute.

2.  The Court’s assessment

(a)  As to whether there was interference

60.  As the Court has held in other cases, a substantial reduction in the amount of a claim resulting from the duty to pay the costs of proceedings constitutes an interference with the right to peaceful enjoymentof possessions (see Perdigão, cited above, § 61, and Klauz v. Croatia, no. 28963/10, § 109, 18 July 2013).

61.  The Court sees no reason to depart from that finding in the present case.

(b)  As to whether the interference pursued public interest

62.  Article 98 of the Code of Civil Procedure embodies the “loser pays” rule, according to which the unsuccessful party must pay the successful party’s costs (see paragraph 16 above). According to Article 100 of that Code, when a party partly succeeds in the proceedings, the court may order that party to reimburse the corresponding part of the other party’s costs (see paragraph 17 above).

63.  According to Article 13 (1) of the Law of 28 July 2005 on Court Fees in Civil Cases, the amount of a court fee is dependent on the amount of theclaim, as it constitutes a percentage thereof. Therefore, the higher amount the plaintiff seeks, the higher the court fee will be.

64.  In view of the rules described above, the Court notes that it had already dealt with establishing whether such rules pursue a legitimate aim (seeKlauz, §§ 84-85, cited above) and sees no reason to depart from its findings.

65.  Furthermore, according to the Ordinance of the Minister of Justice of 28 September 2002 on lawyers’ fees and on the rules of covering the costs of free legal aid by the State Treasury, in civil cases those fees are, as a matter of principle, calculated in proportion to the value of the subject matter of the dispute (see paragraph 21 above). Therefore, the higher amount the plaintiff seeks, the higher the defendant’s representative’s fees will be.

66.  This rule and the one described in paragraph 62 above, taken together, mean that where a plaintiff succeeds in a civil action only in part, as in the present case, he or she may have to pay a share of the defendant’s costs (including thelawyer’s fees) proportionate to the percentage of the claim that was disallowed. More particularly, where a court finds that a claim for damages against the defendant is well-founded in substance but excessive in quantum, when ordering the defendant to pay damages to the plaintiff it may at the same time order the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s costs of proceedings. Where a plaintiff has sought too high an amount, the costs may exceed the sum awarded in damages, the overall financial award being in the defendant’sfavour despite the finding that the plaintiff had sustained a loss which justifieda damages award. The purpose of these rules is to protect defendants from the plaintiffs who bring excessive claims (which otherwise may be well-founded in substance) and thereby unreasonably increase the costs of defendants’ legal representation by a lawyer (see Klauz v.Croatia, cited above, § 80).

67.  In the Court’s opinion, such regulations pursue the public interest, in that they ensure that the parties to the civil proceedings do not inflate their claims unreasonably, which protects the stability and efficiency of the national judicial systems and also protects the State from ill-founded litigation.

(c)  As to whether the interference was lawful

68.  In its judgment of 20January 2014 theBiałystok Regional Court based its cost order on Article 100 of the Code of the Civil Procedure. The Court is therefore satisfied that the interference was lawful.

(d)  As to whether the interference was proportionate

69.  Even taking into account the possibility that the amount of court fees in the instant case was affected by the applicant’s unsuccessful claim for compensation for the alleged overcrowding and inadequate sanitary conditions of detention, the Court sees no reasonable justification for the fact that a successful claim against the State Treasury arising from one of the core provisions of the Convention resulted in court fees higher than the compensation awarded.

70.  In this connection, the Court notes that Article 102 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives the domestic courts considerable discretion as regards the apportionment of costs in cases of partial success in proceedings, as they can order the losing party to pay only a part of the litigation costs, or exempt that party altogether from the obligation to pay these costs if the particular circumstances of the case justify such a decision. However, in the present case the domestic courts applied the provisions governing the costs of the proceedings without giving sufficient consideration to the specific circumstances of the applicant’s case, especially the fact that it was concerned with compensation for non-pecuniary damage sustained as a result of lack of adequate medical care in a detention centre rather than being an ordinary civil-law dispute between private parties.

71.  As regards the Government’s argument that the applicant could have claimed a lower amount and thus have limited the costs of the proceedings, the Court notes that the applicant’s civil action was in principle allowed, the domestic courts granting part of the amount sought. The amount of compensation the applicant requested was admittedly high, but was not unreasonable, taking into consideration the circumstances of the case. In particular, it was significantly lower than in the case ofKupiecrelied on by the Government.

72.  Consequently, the award of costs in the present case had some impact on the applicant’s Convention rights. Firstly, the State took away with one hand what it had awarded with the other (see, mutatis mutandis, Perdigão§ 72, cited above,and Klauz§ 96, cited above). Secondly, the procedural sanction for the applicant’s minor procedural misconduct‒ namely bringing a somewhat inflated claim‒ was so severe that it fully consumed the compensation he was awarded for lack of necessary medical care in the detention centre– an act prohibited by Article3, which, as stated before, ranks among the most fundamental provisions of the Convention.

73.  Accordingly, it cannot be said that the domestic courts’ decisions in the present case were proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued by Article 98 of the Civil Code, which requires that the losing party pay the costs of the proceedings determined in proportion to the value of the claim. Its application in the present case resulted in a restriction which impaired the very essence of the applicant’s right to enjoy his possessions.

There has therefore been a violation of Article1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.

III.  APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

74.  Article 41 of the Convention provides:

“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

A.  Damage

75.  The applicant claimed EUR 9,150 in respect of non‑pecuniary damage.

76.  The Government submitted that this claim was groundless.

77.  The Court awards the applicant EUR 3,500 in respect of non‑pecuniary damage.

B.  Costs and expenses

78.  The applicant also claimed EUR 3,529 for the costs and expenses incurred before the domestic courts.

79.  The Government submitted that this claim was groundless.

80.  Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Editions Plon v.France, no. 58148/00, § 64, ECHR 2004‑IV), the Court considers it reasonable to award the applicant the sum of EUR 1,800(approximately 7,318 Polish zlotys) covering costs and expenses in the domestic proceedings which were necessary to pursue the claim for compensation for inadequate medical care in prison.

C.  Default interest

81.  The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1.  Declaresthe application admissible;

2.  Holdsthat there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention;

3.  Holdsthat there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention;

4.  Holds

(a)  that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three monthsthe following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:

(i)  EUR 3,500 (three thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable,in respect of non-pecuniary damage;

(ii)  EUR 1,800 (one thousand eight hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;

(b)  that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;

5.  Dismissesthe remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 26 April 2018, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Renata Degener                                                                 Aleš Pejchal
DeputyRegistrar                                                                   President

______________

[1].  Rectified on 23 May 2019: the applicant’s last name was: « Sępczyński ».
[2].  Rectified on 23 May 2019: the applicant’s last name was: « Sępczyński ».
[3].  Rectified on 23 May 2019: the applicant’s last name was: « Sępczyński ».

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