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Prokuratura Rejonowa Łódź-Bałuty (Juridiction compétente en matière pénale)

On 7 April 2022, the Seventh Chamber of the Court rendered a judgement concerning the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties.

In September 2020, the Central Fine Collection Agency (‘CJIB’) brought an action before the District Court for the central district of Łódź in Poland (‘the referring court’) seeking recognition and enforcement in Poland, of a financial penalty (EUR 92) imposed on DB in the Netherlands in respect of a road traffic offence.

Against this background, the said court referred to the CJEU two preliminary questions: it asked, first, whether a decision imposing a financial penalty adopted by an administrative authority constitutes a ‘decision’ within the meaning of Framework Decision 2005/214 where an appeal against that decision is to be examined first by a public prosecutor placed under the hierarchical authority of the Minister for Justice, and subsequently by a court having jurisdiction in criminal matters; and secondly, whether the person concerned has had ‘an opportunity to have the case tried by a court having jurisdiction in particular in criminal matters’ within the meaning of that Framework Decision, if the examination of the appeal by a court is subject to the payment by that person of a deposit equal to that amount in case where the fine imposed is EUR 225 or more.

The CJEU examined the two questions together. As a preliminary point, the Court pointed out that a decision issued by an authority other than a court falls within the scope of the said Framework Decision if the person concerned has had an opportunity to have the case tried by a court having jurisdiction in criminal matters. It clarifies then that this does not require that the case be brought directly before such a court provided that access to that court is not made subject to conditions which make it impossible or excessively difficult. As a result, the Court emphasized that in order to answer the first question, it should only assess whether the District Court with which an appeal against the decision in question can be lodged, constitutes a court without it being necessary to deal with the status of the public prosecutor.

By applying its settled case-law, the CJEU decided that the court in question can be classified as ‘court having jurisdiction in criminal matters’ as it has unlimited jurisdiction and applies a procedure which is subject to compliance with the procedural safeguards appropriate to criminal matters. With respect to the second question, the Court ruled that this is irrelevant to the fact of the present case as the fine imposed on DB amounted to EUR 92.

Case Number C-150/21

Name of the parties D.B.

Date of the judgement 2022-04-07

Court Court of Justice of the European Union (Seventh Chamber)