The lack of respect for the principles of an adversarial trial violates the conditions of a fair trial

JUDGMENT

Scheszták v. Hungary  21.11.2017 (no. 5769/11)

see here  

SUMMARY 

In 2007 Mr Scheszták, the applicant, filed an action against his former employer, claiming unlawful
dismissal. In his complaint to the European Court, he complained that the ensuing labour law
proceedings were unfair. He alleged in particular that the Supreme Court had given judgment on his
case without waiting for his pleadings, finding that they had been submitted too late.

The Court found that the Supreme Court having judged Mr Scheszták’s case only on the adversary’s
pleadings had been tantamount to disrespect for the principle of adversarial procedure. That had
occurred as a result of a procedural mistake in the case with regard to the time-limit for the
submission of Mr Scheszták’s pleadings. Indeed, the Hungarian Government itself had conceded that
that mistake had been made and that it had had serious consequences for the merits of
Mr Scheszták’s case.

The Court further pointed out that it was satisfied that Mr Scheszták could not have been expected
to have brought an official liability action before the Hungarian courts in order to have exhausted
domestic remedies. Such an action, even if successful, could not have led either to the calculation
and awarding of the amounts sought by Mr Scheszták in his original claim before the labour court or
to the case being examined afresh.

PROVISION 

Article  6§1

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

The applicant, Sándor Zsigmond Scheszták, is a Hungarian national who was born in 1953 and lives in
Ercsi (Hungary).

In February 2007 Mr Scheszták filed an action against his former employer, claiming unlawful
dismissal. The labour court first found in his favour, but this judgment was then changed in part on
appeal and eventually the employer filed a petition for review. In the ensuing proceedings before
the Supreme Court Mr Scheszták was given eight days to file his observations on his employer’s
petition. He received this order from the Supreme Court on 7 June 2010 and dispatched his
comments on 14 June 2010. They arrived at the court on 17 June 2010.

However, in the meantime (16 June), the Supreme Court had already decided on the case and
dismissed Mr Scheszták’s action, stating that he had not filed any comments on the petition for
review. His complaint about this decision was then dismissed because the pleadings had been
submitted too late.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT

In its submissions, the Government argued that Mr Scheszták should have brought an official liability
action before the Hungarian courts. It explained that there was established case-law in this field in
the event of a procedural mistake having been made with serious consequences for the merits of a
case, as had occurred in the proceedings in which Mr Scheszták had been a party.

However, the Court found that such an action, even if successful, could not have led either to the
calculation and awarding of the amounts sought by Mr Scheszták in his original claim before the
labour court or to the case being examined afresh. Therefore, he could not have obtained full
redress for the alleged damage he had suffered as a result of the irregularity in the proceedings in
his case.

Thus, the Court was satisfied that Mr Scheszták could not have been expected to have brought an
official liability action before the Hungarian courts in order to have exhausted domestic remedies
and declared his complaint admissible.

The Court went on to note that, although Mr Scheszták’s pleadings had only actually reached the
Supreme Court after the expiry of the time-limit, there was nothing in the case file or the
Government’s submissions to show that it had been required for the court to receive such pleadings
– rather than for Mr Scheszták to have posted them – within the eight-day time-limit. Indeed, the
Government itself had conceded in its submissions that a procedural mistake had been committed
which had had serious consequences for the merits of his case.

As a result, the Supreme Court had judged the case only on the adversary’s pleadings, which was
tantamount to disrespect for the principle of adversarial procedure.
The Court therefore concluded that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

The Court held that Hungary was to pay Mr Scheszták 2,800 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary
damage(echrcaselaw.com editing). 


ECHRCaseLaw

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