The right to a fair trial in civil cases

AuthorChristos Rozakis
PositionJudge of the European Court of Human Rights
The right to a fair trial is enshrined in Article 6 of the European
Convention on Human Rights and it represents one of the most
fundamental guarantees for the respect of democracy and the rule of
law on the European continent. Indeed, the concept of fair trial is a
basic component of the wider notion of the separation of powers: it
attributes to the judiciary - one of the three powers of the State - its
distinct character from the other two, by determining which qualities
-independence and impartiality - and which procedures make it an
element of protection and security for those who are under the
omnipotent jurisdiction of the State. The obligations, therefore, for
the State under this Article go far beyond the protection afforded by
some other articles of the Convention, as they are positive
obligations by their nature, and hence require from the State and its
authorities not only a mereabstention from acts which may be
detrimental to an individual, but also, and above all, the taking of
initiatives to ensure good administration of justice within the State.
In sum, Article 6, while it encompasses the protection of individuals
before the courts, at the same time identifies the basic features of the
judiciarywhich distinguish it from the other two State powers.
The right to a fair trial refers both to criminal and civil cases and
the corresponding proceedings. The first paragraph of Article 6
applies equally to the two categories of cases, while the two
remaining paragraphs 2 and 3 are designed to apply, by and large, to
criminal proceedings. We say “by and large” because, although the
intention of the legislator was to limit the applicability of these two
paragraphs to penal cases, the Strasbourg organs have widely
construed the obligations appearing on paragraphs 2 and 3, which
has led to their application by analogy in civil cases, whenever
96 [4:2Judicial Studies Institute Journal
*Judge of the European Courtof Human Rights.
1This observation concerns morepara. 3, than para. 2 of Article 6.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT