Case of European Court of Human Rights, March 26, 2020 (case ZBOROWSKI v. POLAND)

Resolution Date:March 26, 2020

Violation of Article 6 - Right to a fair trial (Article 6 - Criminal proceedings;Article 6-1 - Reasonable time)




(Application no. 72950/13)



26 March 2020

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Zborowski v. Poland,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Pere Pastor Vilanova, President,Krzysztof Wojtyczek,Pauliine Koskelo, judges,

and Renata Degener, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 3 March 2020,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:


  1. The case originated in an application (no. 72950/13) against the Republic of Poland lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Polish national, Mr Mirosław Zborowski (“the applicant”), on 4 November 2013.

  2. The Polish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms J. Chrzanowska and subsequently by Mr J. Sobczak, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  3. On 7 July 2015 notice of the application was given to the Government.


  4. The applicant was born in 1958 and lives in Poznań.

  5. On 17 January 2001 the applicant was arrested by the police and remanded in custody. He was charged with several counts of fraud allegedly committed in the context of inheritance proceedings, falsification of wills, and perjury. He remained in pre-trial detention for a total of four years.

  6. On 5 November 2001 the applicant was indicted before the Poznań Regional Court. During the trial, the court obtained expert psychiatric evidence in respect of other defendants. On 23 April 2004 the Szamotuły District Court, to which the case had in the meantime been transferred gave judgment. On 14 January 2005 the Poznań Regional Court quashed the impugned judgment and remitted the case.

  7. On 26 June 2007 the Szamotuły District Court gave another judgment, which was upheld on appeal by the Poznań Regional Court on 12 February 2009. The applicant lodged a cassation appeal.

  8. On 14 January 2010 the Supreme Court quashed the Regional Court’s judgment and remitted the case.

  9. On 9 March 2011, following the re-trial, the Regional Court gave judgment in the case, partly amending its previous ruling.

  10. Following a second cassation appeal lodged by the applicant, on 17 May 2012 the Supreme Court partly quashed and partly upheld the Regional Court’s judgment.

  11. On 19 December 2012 the Poznań Regional Court gave its fourth judgment in the case against the applicant. The applicant received a reasoned copy of the judgment on 19 February 2013. In March 2013 the applicant, and later his lawyer, lodged cassation appeals. The cassation appeal prepared by the applicant was returned to him as it had not been signed by a lawyer; it was subsequently rejected. On 4 April and 6 May 2013 applications lodged by the applicant for a legal aid lawyer to be assigned to him were dismissed by the court. The cassation appeal lodged by the applicant’s lawyer was accepted and on 7 July 2013 it was forwarded to the Supreme Court.

  12. On 12 December 2013 the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal.

  13. On 3 June 2013 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Gliwice Regional Court under the Law of 17 June 2004 on the right to have a case examined in judicial proceedings without undue delay (ustawa o skardze na naruszenie prawa strony do rozpoznania sprawy w postępowaniu sądowym bez nieuzasadnionej zwłoki – “the 2004 Act”). The applicant complained in particular that the Regional Court had delayed the transfer of his cassation appeal to the Supreme Court. He also complained of the excessive length of the criminal proceedings against him and sought 20,000 Polish zlotys (PLN) in compensation.

  14. By a decision of 22 August 2013 (file no. IIs 19/13) the Poznań Court of Appeal left without examination the part of the complaint regarding the length of the criminal proceedings in the period up to 19 December 2012, the date of the second-instance judgment. The court referred to the interpretation which the Supreme Court had reaffirmed in a resolution (“the 2013 Resolution”) and held that a valid complaint under section 5 of the 2004 Act could be lodged only in the course of the relevant proceedings, namely before a judgment had been rendered by the second‑instance court. For such purposes the cassation stage should be considered as a separate set of proceedings. In the instant case, therefore, the complaint under the 2004 Act in respect of the main proceedings had been lodged too late and as such had been left without examination. The court further dismissed the complaint as regards the subsequent period, during which the case had been pending before the Supreme Court. It considered that the applicant had been responsible for the delay as he had lodged several applications for legal aid in spite of the fact that he was already being represented by a lawyer of his choice.

  15. A...

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