The Cluj Court of Appeal held that the State is liable for the illicit act represented by delays in a trial, as it is under an obligation to take all necessary measures to observe the right of persons to be tried within a reasonable time. In the dispute at hand, the plaintiff claimed compensation from the State because he was involved in criminal proceedings brought against him and that ended in an acquittal almost 12 years after the investigations had begun. Given that there is no special national procedure for claiming compensation from the State for delays in resolving a dispute, the court held that it was justified to invoke the provisions regarding ordinary proceedings, namely those relating to civil liability in tort, in order to hold the State liable. Thus, the Court awarded the plaintiff damages of approximately RON 150,000 for the prejudice suffered.
In this case, the first court had held that the plaintiff was involved in criminal proceedings which ended almost 12 years after the start of the investigation, with a decision of acquittal. Holding the defendant liable, the court ordered it to pay the plaintiff the amount of RON 40,000 as non-material damages. Both the plaintiff and the defendant appealed against this decision, and the case was brought before the Cluj Court of Appeal.
In the appeal, the Court held that the plaintiff’s action was based on the provisions of Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but that there was no domestic procedure enabling individuals to claim compensation for the prejudice suffered as a result of the violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time. Thus, the Cluj Court of Appeal held that the provisions on civil liability in tort are applicable, and not those of Articles 219-224 of the Civil Code on the liability of the State and legal entities governed by public law and held that the defendant’s objection to the inadmissibility of the claim was well grounded.
The Court partially upheld the plaintiff’s appeal and ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiff RON 30,000 for his being arrested between 4 January 2007 and 1 February 2007, RON 100,000 as damages for the duration of the criminal proceedings and the breach of rights, as well as the costs of transport, accommodation and meals incurred by the plaintiff when travelling to court hearings during the criminal proceedings, as well as trial expenses.