Case of European Court of Human Rights, June 25, 1997 (case Halford v. the United Kingdom)

Resolution DateJune 25, 1997

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

June 1997

Halford v. the United Kingdom - 20605/92

Judgment 25.6.1997

Article 8

Interception of telephone calls made on internal telecommunications system operated by police and on public network: violation; no violation

Article 13

Lack of regulation by domestic law: 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.]


A.              Office telephones

  1.               Applicability

    Telephone calls made from business premises may be covered by notions of "private life" and "correspondence" - applicant had reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Conclusion: Article 8 applicable (unanimously).

  2.               Existence of interference

    Reasonable likelihood that calls intercepted by Merseyside police with primary aim of gathering material to assist in defence of discrimination proceedings - "interference by public authority".

  3.               Whether interference was "in accordance with the law"

    To protect against arbitrary interference, domestic law must be sufficiently clear to give adequate indication of when authorities empowered to resort to secret measures of surveillance or interception of communications - no regulation by domestic law of interceptions of calls on internal communications systems operated by public authorities.

    Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

    B.              Home telephone

  4.               Applicability

    Conclusion: Article 8 applicable (unanimously).

  5.               Existence of interference

    Since complaint (that calls from home telephone were intercepted) concerns specific measures of interception unauthorised by law, Court must be satisfied there was reasonable likelihood that some such measure applied to applicant - evidence insufficient - cases of Klass and Others v. Germany and Malone v. the United Kingdom...

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