The rejection of an appeal on the ground that a non-identical copy of the appeal was submitted before the court violated the right of access to a Court.

JUDGMENT

Parol v. Poland  11.10.2018 (no. 65379/13)

see here

SUMMARY

Rejection of an appeal and right of access to a court. The applicant’s appeal is inadmissible on the ground that the copy of the appeal lodged before the competent court was not identical to the original. The Court held that the applicant had exercised due diligence on the part of a party in a civil proceeding, whereas the national courts had prevented access to an appellate court. Violation of the right to a fair trial.

PROVISION

Article 6 par. 1

PRINCIPAL FACTS

The applicant, Albert Parol, is a Polish national who was born in 1978 and is currently in prison in
Warsaw.

The case concerned the application by the domestic courts of the procedural provisions of the
national legislation on lodging appeals.

In July 2011 Mr Parol brought an action in the Warsaw-Praga Regional Court (“the Regional Court”)
against four prisons, seeking compensation on account of his conditions of detention. In June 2012
the Regional Court dismissed his action as being time-barred. In November 2012 the applicant
appealed against that judgment. In a letter of 20 November 2012 the Regional Court requested Mr
Parol to rectify some formal defects in his appeal. It requested him, in particular, to submit a copy of
the appeal and of his memorial rectifying the formal defects. In order to comply, the applicant
requested the Regional Court to send him a copy of his appeal at his own expense. No action was
taken.

In December 2012 Mr Parol submitted a handwritten copy of his appeal to the Regional Court,
together with the other documents requested. At the end of December 2012 the Regional Court
declared the applicant’s appeal inadmissible on the grounds that the copy of the appeal submitted
was not identical to the original. In July 2013 the Warsaw Court of Appeal (“the Court of Appeal”)
dismissed an appeal by the applicant against the decision of December 2012, noting that appeals
had to be submitted in duplicate so that they could be served on the respondent. In October 2013
the Court of Appeal declared the applicant’s appeal against the decision of July 2013 to be
inadmissible, on the grounds that the decision in question was not open to appeal.

Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right of access to a court), the applicant complained of a violation of his right
of access to a court on account of the dismissal of his appeal against the Regional Court judgment of
June 2012 as being inadmissible, following what he regarded as an unduly restrictive application by
the domestic courts of the relevant procedural provisions.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT 

Violation of Article 6 par. 1 

Taking into account the particular circumstances of the case, including the applicant’s incarceration at the time in question, the fact that he acted alone and the failure of the court of first instance to respect the obligation to inform him regarding the number of copies of the appeal to be provided, the question arises as to whether the manner in which the procedural rules were applied before the Regional Court did not deprive the applicant of the possibility of lodging the appeal. call.

The Court observes that, as a person deprived of his liberty and not being assisted by a lawyer following his refusal in this respect by the Regional Court , the applicant, by submitting procedural documents, could mainly be based on the information provided by the domestic courts on the rules of procedure to be followed. It notes in this context that it does not appear from the documents in the file that, after the delivery of the judgment at first instance, the applicant was informed, as it should be informed under the relevant legislation, that he was required to present his appeal in duplicate.

The Court does not share the Government’s view that the applicant was aware of the requirement to file an appeal with a copy. It notes in this context that the applicant brought an action for compensation against four penitentiary institutions, which implies that if he was aware of the obligation to file a pleading with copies for each defendant to procedure, in this case he would have filed four. It sees no reason to impose on the applicant the effects of non-compliance with the legal obligation imposed on the judicial authority in accordance with Article 327 § 2 of the CPC . Moreover, it notes that, in this case, the applicant is a vulnerable person because of his incarceration.

The Court goes on to observe that the applicant tried to comply with the indications given by the Regional Court. As he was not in possession of a copy of his initial appeal, he had asked that court to send him a copy of the appeal at his own expense in order to fulfill his obligation. As this request was left unfulfilled, the applicant complied by filing a copy of his appeal. However, it was not identical to the original appeal because the applicant had written it from memory.

​​The Court notes that the applicant’s claim had a legal basis in Article 9 CPC  and that, in addition, the applicant was also entitled to consult his case file during his incarceration  The Court finds that, in the particular circumstances of this case, by sending to the Regional Court a handwritten document which he considered it fulfilled the conditions required to be considered as a copy of his original appeal, the Applicant observed due diligence normally required of a party to a civil proceeding.

Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the Court considers that the national courts failed in their obligation to guarantee the applicant access to an appeal court.

These elements are sufficient for the Court to conclude that, in the present case, the national courts prevented the applicant from having access to a court of second instance. Accordingly, Article 6 § 1 of the Convention has been violated in this case.

The European Court of Human Rights awarded EUR 3,250 for non-pecuniary damage (echrcaselaw.com editing).


ECHRCaseLaw

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