Summons to appear in court served via public notification was not sufficient under the Convention

In the case of Dridi v. Germany (application no. 35778/11, 26.07.2018), the European Court of Human Rightsheld, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to a fair trial/to defend oneself in person or through legal assistance) of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the serving of a summons by public notification, and a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (b) and (c) (right to a fair trial/time and facilities for defence/defence in person or through legal assistance) because MrDridi’s lawyer was not given adequate opportunity to prepare his defence or attend the appeal hearing.

The case concerned criminal proceedings in which the summons to a hearing was served by public notification – pinning it to its notice board – because the applicant had moved abroad and the time given to the defence to prepare for the hearing and attend it.

Even though German domestic law had allowed for the serving of the summons by way of public notification in the present case, the Court observed that MrDridi’s address in Spain had been known to the Regional Court and that there had been no unsuccessful attempts to serve court documents on him. Despite a provision for procedural documents to be sent to the applicant by post under Article 5 of the EU Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 25 May 2000, the summons had neither been served in Spain, nor communicated to MrDridi in any other way than public notification.

The Court noted that MrArif had learnt the date of the hearing one day before it was due to take place and his application for an adjournment had been dismissed. The Court concluded that the lawyer had not been properly summoned, had been unable to attend the hearing and had not had a chance to inspect the court’s case file anew.In conclusion, the Court found that MrDridi’s rights under Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) and Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (b) and (c) had been violated.

References from the official website of European Court of Human Rights