Kędzior v. Poland

Application number: 
no. 45026/07, ECHR 2013
Date decided: 
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
A Polish court removed Mr Kędzior’s (‘the applicant’s) legal capacity, placing him under the guardianship of his brother. His brother then placed him in an institution, against his will, where he was forced to stay for 10 years. During this time, and because of the removal of his legal capacity, Mr Kędzior had no legal avenue to challenge his placement in the institution. Polish law regarded Mr Kędzior’s placement in the institution as ‘voluntary’ due to the decision of his brother, acting as guardian, to place him there. Mr Kędzior asked the Polish courts to quash the order depriving him of his legal capacity, however this request was refused on the grounds that he had no legal standing to bring proceedings as a result of the removal of his legal capacity, trapping him in the institution indeterminately.
The Court found that the framework which allowed Mr Kędzior’s guardian to place him in a social care institution against his will provided no safeguards or opportunity for him to challenge this decision. The court that no assessments had been made as to whether Mr Kędzior should continue living in the institute during his time there, citing this as further evidence of a violation of his right to liberty (Article 5(1) ECHR). In finding this violation, the Court criticised the fact that periodic judicial reviews of Mr Kędzior’s placement in a social care home never took place. This, combined with the situation that people who have had their legal capacity removed were unable to initiate legal proceedings in Poland, meant that Mr Kędzior had no avenue available to him to have his involuntary placement assessed. Thus the Court found a violation of the right to review the lawfulness of detention (Article 5(4) ECHR) Due to the fact that Mr Kędzior could not apply to the Polish courts by himself and challenge both the restriction of his legal capacity and placement under guardianship, the Court found that this meant his right to liberty had been restricted without him having a right to present his case in court. This situation further violated his right to a fair trial (Article 6(1) ECHR).
Remedy and what happened after the judgement: 
The Court awarded Mr Kędzior 10,000 EUR to compensate him for the human rights violations done by Poland.
Case comment: 
This case developed and broadened the Court’s jurisprudence in Stanev v. Bulgaria (another case taken by MDAC). In that case, the Court emphasised the State’s involvement in violations of Mr Stanev’s right because his guardian was also a municipal employee. In this case, the Court found that the State was responsible, even though Mr Kędzior’s guardian was his brother, because the legal system allowed a guardian to take such actions without any court approval. Unfortunately, the Court also followed the approach taken in Stanev in not separately reviewing the applicant’s claims under Article 8 ECHR related to restrictions on his rights to a private and family life resulting from his involuntary institutionalisation.
Third parties involved: 
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