Europan Court of Human Rights - case of De Cubber v. Belgium (1984) (excerpts)


30. In conclusion, the impartiality of the Oudenaarde court was

capable of appearing to the applicant to be open to doubt. Although

the Court itself has no reason to doubt the impartiality of the member

of the judiciary who had conducted the preliminary investigation (see

paragraph 25 above), it recognises, having regard to the various

factors discussed above, that his presence on the bench provided

grounds for some legitimate misgivings on the applicant's part.

Without underestimating the force of the Government's arguments and

without adopting a subjective approach (see paragraphs 25

and 28 above), the Court recalls that a restrictive interpretation of

Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) - notably in regard to observance of the

fundamental principle of the impartiality of the courts - would not be

consonant with the object and purpose of the provision, bearing in

mind the prominent place which the right to a fair trial holds in a

democratic society within the meaning of the Convention (see the

above-mentioned Delcourt judgment, Series A no. 11, pp. 14-15,

para. 25 in fine).