Wardynski & Partners describes the 1965 Meat Scandal as "one of the most notorious commercial affairs in Poland’s communist era.”
The firm reports that “over 400 people were arrested for alleged irregularities in meat trading. The courts conducted summary proceedings, without the right to appeal and without providing defence counsel with a justification for the sentences. Four life sentences and one death sentence were handed down. The death sentence was carried out before the deadline for seeking extraordinary review, which was the only method available for challenging the sentence."
In 2004 the Supreme Court of Poland overturned the original judgment in its entirety, citing a gross violation of procedural regulations, but the efforts by one of the defendant’s heirs to recover the property that had been confiscated were unsuccessful. Accordingly, the heir decided to sue the Polish Treasury for return of the confiscated property in connection with setting aside of the judgment. The case was taken up in the Strategic Litigation Programme of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and is being pursued pro bono by Wardynski & Partners Advocat Wojciech Marchwicki and Trainee Jakub Baranski.
According to the firm, “one of the fundamental issues in the case is the statute of limitations. Art. 192 of the [Polish] Criminal Enforcement Code cross-references the statute of limitations provisions of the Civil Code, but does not specify whether the general 10-year limitations period applies, or the 3-year period for tort claims."
“We believe that the liability in such situations is not based on tort,” said Wojciech Marchwicki. “The case is much closer to unjust enrichment. Even though the death sentence was overturned, the State Treasury continues to benefit from the assets seized pursuant to the judgment. This is unacceptable for ethical reasons and from a purely legal point of view.”