Personal interests, case I C 116/12

August 9th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Eryk Schuman wrote an article regarding Klaudiusz Sevkovic who is an alderman of Chorz√≥w city and also the president of the local handball club. This critical piece appeared at dlachorzowa.pl website. According Mr Schuman, the data given in the declaration of interests of the alderman, could indicate that Mr Sevkovic uses the communal property in his private economic activities. Sevkovic filed a suit for the protection of his personal interests. He argued that the article overstated the amount of cash taken from the club. Mr Schuman wrote that the alderman took 275 thousand PLN (Schuman used the abbreviation “tys.” which stands for thousand in Polish) for a contract work. The journalist referred to a statement of financial interests filed by Sevkovic. However, the amount disclosed in the statement was 275 PLN not 275 tys. PLN. Schuman argued that it was an unintentional mistake in the text, and it was corrected immediately after he noticed it. He noted that the goal of the article was to draw attention to irregularities of the activities of alderman. Meanwhile, Sevkovic argued that such false information was visible on at least for two weeks and it was removed only after sending a letter to the editor to request a correction, and to publish an apology, which, however, never appeared on the website.

The District Court in Katowice in its judgment of 6 August 2012 case file I C 116/12 ruled that Eryk Schuman infringed Mr Sevkovic’s personal interest. The Court noted that the article served to undermine the credibility and good name of Sevkovic in the public opinion. The Court did not consider the text in question as a “typographical error”.