The European Tribunal of Human Rights, by the judgement issued on the 9th of June 2022, upheld the allegations of the claim submitted by the Firm’s Client, and acknowledged that the Regional Court in Kraków and the Court of Appeal in Kraków had violated article 6 § 1 of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by restriction of the right to a fair trial.
Both of the Polish courts, i.e. the Court of Appeal and the Regional Court, refused Mr and Mrs Szewczyk (in that moment not represented by the Firm) to be exempted from paying a court fee for the appeal submitted against the ruling of the Regional Court in Kraków, on the basis of which the Court ordered from them the amount of USD 634.254,15, jointly and severally. Mr and Mrs Szewczyk were not able to pay a court fee higher than PLN 10.000 due to their troubled financial situation. Although they declared the ability to pay the fee in the above mentioned amount, the Courts obliged them to incur the cost of PLN 60.000 as a court fee. Since there was no possibility to pay an amount this high, the appeal of Mr and Mrs Szewczyk was not heard (it was rejected as not properly paid for).
The European Tribunal of Human Rights agreed that the refusal of exempting the Firm’s Clients from the court fee was legitimised only by protection of the property interests of the State Treasury. The Tribunal stated that the substance of the justifications of the Courts’ sentences did not imply that the appeal proceedings – that the Firm’s clients intended to launch – had no chances of success.
As it was noticed by the Tribunal, the Courts of both instances assumed a priori that the Firm’s Clients should have taken care to obtain the funds to cover the fee, and thereby the Courts did not consider the Client’s financial situation properly. In consequence, the Tribunal stated that the obligation to cover all the costs of submitting the appeal should be considered a disproportionate restriction of the right to a fair trial.
The Tribunal awarded the Firm’s Client with both due compensation, as well as reimbursement of the costs of the proceeding run by the Tribunal.
File number: 51832/13 Szewczyk and Szewczyk against Poland