Case of European Court of Human Rights, March 18, 1997 (case Foucher v. France)

Resolution Date:March 18, 1997

Violation of Art. 6-1 Violation of Art. 6-3 Non-pecuniary damage - finding of violation sufficient Costs and expenses partial award


Information Note on the Court’s case-law No.

March 1997

Foucher v. France - 22209/93

Judgment 18.3.1997

Article 6

Criminal proceedings

Article 6-1

Fair hearing

Equality of arms

Article 6-3-b

Access to relevant files

Preparation of defence

Denial of access to a criminal file and refusal to release copies of the documents contained in it, in respect of a defendant who had been sent for trial in a police court under a direct summons procedure and who was conducting his own defence: violation

[This summary is extracted from the Court’s official reports (Series A or Reports of Judgments and Decisions). Its formatting and structure may therefore differ from the Case-Law Information Note summaries.]

I.              ARTICLE 6 §§ 1 AND 3 OF THE CONVENTION

Not in dispute that present case concerned determination of a criminal charge - Article 6 applicable.

Guarantees in paragraph 3 of Article 6 are specific aspects of right to a fair trial set forth in general in paragraph 1 - complaint examined under the two provisions taken together.

Applicant could complain of refusal to grant him access to his criminal file and to release to him copies of the documents in it, notwithstanding the fact that he had not made such a request before the Court of Appeal and had not attended the hearing held by the Court of Appeal - had been denied access at first instance by public prosecutor - Court of Appeal and Court of Cassation had taken it as settled that applicant had not been able to have access to his case file or to obtain a copy of the documents in it.

Principle of equality of arms: each party must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present his case in conditions that do not place him at a disadvantage vis-à-vis his opponent.


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