Case C‑205/09 – European Court of Justice ruling on standing of victims in criminal proceedings

The Hungarian Szombathelyi Városi Bíróság decided to refer to the Court the following questions for a preliminary ruling:

(1) The court wishes to  know, in connection with the criminal proceedings pending before it,  whether “a person other than a natural person” falls within the definition of “victim” in Article 1(a) of the Framework Decision …, in light of the obligation to promote mediation between the victim and the offender in  criminal cases, laid down in Article 10 of the Framework Decision, and asks the Court of Justice to explain and supplement its  judgment in Case C‑467/05 Dell’Orto [2007] ECR I‑5557.

(2) The court wishes to know, regarding Article 10 of the Framework Decision …, which provides that
“[e]ach Member State shall seek to promote mediation in criminal cases for offences which  it considers appropriate for this sort of measure”, whether the meaning of the term “offences” may be interpreted to refer  to all offences the legal classification of which is substantively the same.

(3) Is it possible to  interpret the words “[e]ach Member State shall seek to promote mediation in criminal cases …]” in Article 10(1) of the Framework Decision … in such a way that the  conditions upon which offender and victim can have access to mediation can be satisfied at least until the point when a decision is  made at the first stage of proceedings; or [in such a way] that a condition that the offender has admitted the facts during the legal proceedings, after the investigation has been completed – when all other conditions are satisfied – is a condition which is compatible with the obligation to promote mediation?

(4) The court raises the  question, with regard to Article 10(1) of the Framework Decision,  whether the words “[e]ach Member Stateshall seek to promote mediation in criminal cases for offences  which it considers appropriate for this sort of measure” mean that the option of mediation in criminal proceedings must be  generally available, provided that all the prerequisite legal conditions are satisfied, and that there is no room for  discretion. That is to say, if the reply to the question is in the affirmative, is the existence of a condition worded as follows: “[where] having regard to the nature of the offence, the form of responsibility and the person of the suspect, the legal  proceedings may be omitted or there are grounds for believing that the court will take into account active repentance at the time  of sentencing” compatible with the provisions (requirements) of Article 10?

The European Court of Justice ruled that

1.      Articles 1(a) and 10 of Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘victim’ does not extend to legal persons for the purposes of the promotion of mediation in criminal proceedings in Article 10(1).

2.      Article 10 of the Framework Decision 2001/220 must be interpreted as not requiring Member States to make recourse to mediation possible for all offences the substantive components of which, as defined by national legislation, correspond essentially to those of offences for which mediation is expressly provided by that legislation.

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