CASE OF JÁNOS DÁNIEL SZABÓ v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 30361/12)
17 February 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of János Dániel Szabó v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Helen Keller, President,
Robert Spano, judges,
and Abel Campos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 27 January 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 30361/12) against the Republic of Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian national, Mr János Dániel Szabó (“the applicant”), on 27 April 2012.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr T. Borsos, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.
3. On 25 July 2012 the application was communicated to the Government.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1980 and lives in Szigethalom.
5. Between 13 December 2004 and 4 April 2012 criminal proceedings, on charges of disorderly conduct, were being carried out against the applicant before the Ráckeve District Court, this period including a remittal ordered by the Pest County Regional Court.
The first judgment given by the District Court on 29 March 2010 contained the lapse of time as a minor mitigating factor.
However, the second, final judgment given by the Regional Court on 4 April 2012 (that is, after the remittal) was a simplified decision which did not contain any considerations about mitigation.
6. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
7. The Government contested that argument.
8. The period to be taken into consideration began on 13 December 2004 and ended on 4 April 2012. It thus lasted about seven years and four months.
9. The Government submitted that the applicant had failed to exhaust domestic remedies as he had not made a complaint under section 262/B of the Code of Criminal Procedure to expedite the procedure. In the Government’s view, such an application was an effective remedy as its use would have reduced the length of the proceedings.
10. The Court recalls that this remedy has already been found ineffective (see Barta and Drajkó v. Hungary, no. 35729/12, § 26, 17 December 2013). It follows that its non-pursuit cannot be reproached to the applicant and the application cannot be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.
11. The Government also submitted that the applicant had lost his victim status, for the purposes of Article 34 of the Convention, since the District Court had appreciated the lapse of time as a mitigating factor.
12. The Court observes that this consideration is not contained in the final judgment (see paragraph 5 above). Therefore, the applicant cannot be regarded as having lost his victim status; and the application is not incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention.
13. The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
14. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present application (see, among many other authorities, Pélissier and Sassi v. France [GC], no. 25444/94, § 67, ECHR 1999-II).
15. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or convincing argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present circumstances. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
16. Relying on Article 41 of the Convention, the applicant claimed 5,400 euros (EUR) plus accrued interests in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
17. The Government contested the claim.
18. The Court considers that the applicant must have sustained some non-pecuniary damage. Ruling on the basis of equity, it awards him EUR 3,000 under that head.
19. The applicant also claimed EUR 1,640 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
20. The Government contested the claim.
21. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case-law, the Court considers it appropriate to award the full sum claimed.
22. The Court further 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. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 3,000 (three thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 1,640 (one thousand six hundred and forty 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;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 17 February 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Abel Campos Helen Keller
Deputy Registrar President