Case of European Court of Human Rights, November 23, 1993 (case Poitrimol v. France)

Resolution DateNovember 23, 1993

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

November 1993

Poitrimol v. France - 14032/88

Judgment 23.11.1993

Article 6

Article 6-1

Fair hearing

Article 6-3-c

Defence through legal assistance

Judgment of a court of appeal, delivered after proceedings deemed to be inter partes, convicting intentionally absent defendant and refusing to let him be represented by his counsel: 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 (C) OF THE CONVENTION

Proceedings held in an accused's absence not in principle incompatible with the Convention if person concerned could subsequently obtain from a court which had heard him a fresh determination of the merits of the charge, in respect of both law and fact.

Ruling unnecessary on whether that latter requirement applied when accused had waived his right to appear and to defend himself, since in the instant case the applicant intended to be represented by a lawyer.

The issue was whether an accused who decided not to appear in person was entitled to "legal assistance of his own choosing".

Although not absolute, the right of everyone charged with a criminal offence to be effectively defended by a lawyer, assigned officially if need be, was one of the fundamental features of a fair trial - a person charged with a criminal offence did not lose the benefit of that right merely on account of not being present at the trial. 

Defendant's appearance in person was of...

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