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Key facts of the case: 

On 10 May 2003, the applicant, who was twelve years old at the time, was shopping with his father in a Getro store in Rijeka. After the purchase has been made, the anti-theft alarm went off while the applicant was passing through the doors. The security guard started checking the applicant in a manner causing fear and shame in front of a large group of people. The security guard requested him to empty his pockets. Upon the applicant’s father’s request, the assistant workers decided to call the police. Even though the police concluded that no theft has been made, the security guard nevertheless checked the applicant’s shoes as well.

In accordance with the Civil Obligations Act, the court of first instance granted the applicant a compensation for non-material damages in relation to the violation of the right to human dignity and reputation and for the violation of his personality. The county court confirmed the first violation, but decided to deny the second violation, reasoning that a twelve year old child cannot develop a sense of a personality. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia has nullified the decision of the County Court.

Outcome of the case: 

According to observations of the Constitutional Court, the second-instance court made an arbitrary conclusion that the applicant, a twelve year old child, who has not formed a perception of his personal reputation and dignity, does not have a right to compensation of damages on that basis.

The Constitutional Court finds that the applicant’s right to a fair trial granted by Article 29 of the Constitution has not been respected by the court of second instance in relation to the exercise of his right to respect for and legal protection of each person’s private and family life, dignity and reputation guaranteed in Article 35 of the Constitution.

Therefore, the Constitutional Court has nullified the decisions rendered by the courts of lower instances and remanded the case to the County Court for a new trial.