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(Application no. 45844/21)



30 March 2023

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

In the case of Klein v. Slovakia,

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

Gilberto Felici, President,
Alena Poláčková,
Raffaele Sabato, judges,

and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 9 March 2023,

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


1. The case originated in an application against Slovakia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on 10 September 2021.

2. The applicant, a Slovak national, was represented by Mr O. Urban, a lawyer practising in Bratislava.

3. The Slovak Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the application.


4. The applicant’s details and information relevant to the application are set out in the appended table.

5. The applicant complained of the excessive length of criminal proceedings which started on 3 November 2011, when charges were brought against him. The proceedings are still pending before the firstinstance court.

6. When reviewing the applicant’s constitutional complaint of 14 May 2021, the Constitutional Court divided the different stages of the criminal proceedings and examined the pre-trial stage and the judicial stage separately. It held that the pre-trial stage had ended on 19 May 2014 (when the applicant was indicted) and the applicant had thus failed to lodge his complaint while the proceedings had still been pending before the investigative organs. The part of the applicant’s complaint regarding the length of the judicial stage was dismissed on formal grounds. The Constitutional Court concluded that the applicant had failed to describe specific periods of the court’s inactivity and ineffectiveness and provided no examples of the court’s alleged unlawful, uncoordinated, and inefficient conduct. It also added that the current length of the proceedings before the first-instance court was not excessive on account of the factual complexity of the case and the applicant’s conduct (multiple adjournments of the hearings attributed to the applicant and his lawyers) (II. ÚS 346/2021).



7. The applicant complained that the length of the criminal proceedings in question had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement. He relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which, insofar as relevant, reads as follows:

“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”

8. The Government relied extensively on the Constitutional Court’s conclusions, arguing that the complaint was manifestly ill-founded. They reiterated that the applicant had failed to lodge his constitutional complaint in accordance with the applicable formal requirements, and thus he had failed to exhaust the available domestic remedies. The Government also submitted that the case was factually very complicated on account of a complex investigation and extensive written evidence, and the applicant had significantly contributed to the delays by requesting several adjournments of the final inspection of the investigation file at the pre-trial stage and of the hearings during the judicial stage.

9. As for the Government’s plea of non-exhaustion, the Court observes that, although the applicant’s constitutional complaint was dismissed mainly on formal grounds, the Constitutional Court expressed its views also on the merits of the applicant’s complaint. Even though the applicant complained of the length of the criminal proceedings in a general manner, it was not in dispute that the proceedings had lasted for more than ten years at the time of the constitutional review. It does not appear, therefore, that the Constitutional Court was prevented from examining the overall length of the impugned proceedings (see, a contrario, Obluk v. Slovakia, no. 69484/01, § 61, 20 June 2006), and the applicant can be considered as having exhausted domestic remedies in this respect (see, a contrario, Šidlová v. Slovakia, no. 50224/99, § 53, 26 September 2006).

10. The Court reiterates that for the purposes of Article 6 § 1 complaints concerning the length of criminal proceedings, the period to be taken into consideration begins on the day on which a person is charged and covers the whole of the proceedings in question, including appeal proceedings (see V. v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 24888/94, § 109, 16 December 1999, and Liblik and Others v. Estonia, nos. 173/15 and 5 others, § 94, 28 May 2019).

11. The criminal proceedings in question started on 3 November 2011, when the applicant was charged, and are still pending before the first-instance court. The period to be examined is thus more than eleven years and two months for one level of jurisdiction.

12. The Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicant in the dispute (see, among many other authorities, Pélissier and Sassi v. France [GC], no. 25444/94, § 67, ECHR 1999II, and Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000VII).

13. In the leading case of Pavlík v. Slovakia (no. 74827/01, 30 April 2007) the Court has already found a violation of Article 6 of the Convention given an excessive length of the proceedings.

14. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court notes that although the applicant’s case was of a certain complexity and the applicant had contributed to the delays, those elements are not capable of justifying the overall length of the proceedings at the national level. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.

15. These complaints are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.


16. Article 41 of the Convention provides:

“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

17. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its caselaw (see, in particular, Pavlík, cited above), the Court finds it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.


  1. Declares the application admissible;
  2. Holds that this application discloses a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the excessive length of the criminal proceedings;
  3. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table;

(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 30 March 2023, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina Gilberto Felici

Acting Deputy Registrar President


Application raising complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention

(excessive length of criminal proceedings)

Application no.

Date of introduction

Applicant’s name

Year of birth

Representative’s name and location

Start of proceedings

End of proceedings

Total length

Levels of jurisdiction

Domestic court

File number

Domestic award (in euros)

Amount awarded for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage per applicant

(in euros)[1]

Amount awarded for costs and expenses per application

(in euros)[2]



Gabriel KLEIN


Ondrej Urban




More than 11 years and 2 months

1 level of jurisdiction

Constitutional Court II. US 346/2021




[1] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant.

[2] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant.