Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.


Fair Trial Rights Notes

BCL Law Notes > Principles of Civil Procedure Notes

Updates Available  

A more recent version of these Fair Trial Rights notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Principles of Civil Procedure Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Fair trial Components: Art 6 ECHR

1. 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.
? Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: (a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him; (b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence; (c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require; (d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him; (e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court. Nature of Art 6
? Said that it provides an absolute right - that can't be balanced against other rights / competing interests


o Infringement can't be justified by higher purpose BUT all of elements are a matter of degree

Right to be heard & public trial Right to be heard
? Justifications o Instrumental - distorts conclusion of adversarial process unless both sides heard o Dignitarian - respect for autonomy of the parties
? Requires o Notification (service)
? Comprehensive - of claim, particulars of allegation and of evidence o Time to respond o Opportunity to challenge evidence o Right to respond & meet allegations Qualifications
? Urgency - ex parte applications without notice o Balanced by short return date - deprivation of right not permanent
? Secrecy - where notification would defeat process - freezing injunctions Right to public trial
? Justifications o Instrumental justification - more disposed to correctly find facts
? Witnesses - more likely to tell truth in the open?
Not necessarily true
? DM/judge is unaccountable & can reach odd factual conclusions - promotes irrationality, bias (incl towards own hypothesis), lack of thoroughness or corruption o Confidence in the administration of justice - expose procedure & reasoning process - judging compliance with standards
? Secrecy - no standards by which can be criticised
- no constraints on decision-making - leads to arbitrary decisions
? Guard against bias
? In other contexts - eg Cabinet - meetings are secret - but subject to elections, and fear of leaks
? AZ says no objective measure of correctness of decisions - can only observe the process - otherwise undermines confidence in justice and our own rights / incentive to comply with the law o Educational value - informs public & guards judiciary from uninformed criticism

Also stare decisis - if precedent is binding it should be knowable o Democratic function - promotes debate by giving reasons in public
? Participatory value - public dimension in ability of public to comment & encourage development of law o Rule of law - common law must be knowable Aspects to publicity o Litigant - right in Art 6
? Tension between efficiency <> publicity & quality of justice o Public dimension - opportunity to attend / be informed
? Tension between efficiency <> publicity (but not necessarily quality?) - eg opening speeches, EIC in bundle rather than in open
? There is public interest in efficiency - and if court file is public then if we assume literacy concern is remedied
? Public access to court file - only during conduct of proceedings (equivalent opportunity as access to oral evidence) - otherwise on application to court, generally granted unless reasons to refuse Applications in chambers - not closed but no practical opportunity for public to attend CPR o 5.4C & 5.4D re access by public -??

Qualifications & attenuating circumstances

39.2(3) A hearing, or any part of it, may be in private if - (a) publicity would defeat the object of the hearing;
? eg freezing injunction (b) it involves matters relating to national security; (c) it involves confidential information (including information relating to personal financial matters) and publicity would damage that confidentiality; (d) a private hearing is necessary to protect the interests of any child or protected party; (e) it is a hearing of an application made without notice and it would be unjust to any respondent for there to be a public hearing; (f) it involves uncontentious matters arising in the administration of trusts or in the administration of a deceased person's estate; or (g) the court considers this to be necessary, in the interests of justice.

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Principles of Civil Procedure Notes.