CASE OF UDVARDY v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 66177/11)
1 October 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Udvardy v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Elisabeth Steiner, President,
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 8 September 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 66177/11) against 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 Gyula Udvardy (“the applicant”), on 19 October 2011.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr T. Marosvári, a lawyer practising in Pecs. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 25 March 2015 the application was communicated to the Government.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1966 and lives in Komló.
5. On 19 February 2003 the applicant was interrogated as suspect of forgery of private documents.
6. The Public Prosecutor preferred a bill of indictment on 8 October 2004. Subsequently, on 27 June 2005 the Public Prosecutor extended the charges against the applicant with charge of fraud.
7. In the ensuing criminal proceedings on 23 March 2010 the Komló District Court acquitted the applicant in respect of fraud and found him guilty in forgery of private documents.
8. On appeal of the Public Prosecutor, the Baranya County Court reversed the judgment and acquitted the applicant in respect of all charges on 20 May 2011.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
9. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement, laid down in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
10. The Government contested that argument.
11. The period to be taken into consideration began on 19 February 2003 and ended on 20 May 2011. It thus lasted eight years, three months and one day for two levels of jurisdiction.
12. 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.
13. The Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the relevant authorities (see, among many other authorities, Pélissier and Sassi v. France [GC], no. 25444/94, § 67, ECHR 1999-II)
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 case (see Pélissier and Sassi, cited above).
15. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present case. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case 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.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
16. 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.”
17. The applicant claimed 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.
18. The Government contested the claim.
19. The Court does not discern any causal link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage alleged; it therefore rejects this claim. On the other hand, it awards the applicant EUR 3,200 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
20. The applicant made no costs claim.
21. 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. 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, EUR 3,200 (three thousand two hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount 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 1 October 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
André Wampach Elisabeth Steiner
Deputy Registrar President