According to Article 6 (Right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as the ECHR): “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” (for the content of Article 6 of the ECHR see here).
In view of the failure of the Supreme Court to consider the request, Mr Georgiou brought an action before the ECtHR, alleging a violation of Article 6 ECHR. The ECtHR judged that Article 6 of the ECHR requires national courts to state the reasons for decisions refusing to refer a question for a preliminary ruling, and given that the judgement of the Supreme Court did not contain any reference to the applicant’s request for a preliminary ruling and therefore it could not be ascertained whether the question was considered irrelevant, whether it was considered to relate to a provision which was clear or had already been interpreted by the CJEU or whether it was simply ignored (cf. (see paragraphs 22-25 of the judgement), it concluded that there had been a breach of Article 6 of the ECHR.
It should be noted that in the opinion of the ECtHR, the violation of Article 6 in this particular case could be reversed.
Respect for fundamental rights is one of the key components of the rule of law.
The fundamental rights that every citizen should enjoy are guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a primary and undeniable obligation of the State to respect these rights.
In this particular case, however, the European Court of Human Rights held that the national courts’ failure to consider the request for a preliminary reference to the CJEU constituted a violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial.
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