European Court of Human Rights - case of Kleyn and Others v. the Netherlands (2003) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Kleyn and Others v. the Netherlands (2003) (excerpts)

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193.  Although the notion of the separation of powers between the political organs of government and the judiciary has assumed growing importance in the Court’s case-law (see Stafford v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 46295/99, § 78, ECHR 2002-IV), neither Article 6 nor any other provision of the Convention requires States to comply with any theoretical constitutional concepts regarding the permissible limits of the powers’ interaction. The question is always whether, in a given case, the requirements of the Convention are met. The present case does not, therefore, require the application of any particular doctrine of constitutional law to the position of the Netherlands Council of State. The Court is faced solely with the question whether, in the circumstances of the case, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division had the requisite “appearance” of independence, or the requisite “objective” impartiality (see McGonnell, cited above, § 51).

194.  In deciding whether in a given case there is a legitimate reason to fear that these requirements are not met, the standpoint of a party is important but not decisive. What is decisive is whether this fear can be held to be objectively justified (see, mutatis mutandis, Hauschildt v. Denmark, judgment of 24 May 1989, Series A no. 154, p. 21, § 48).

195.  Having regard to the manner and conditions of appointment of the Netherlands Council of State’s members and their terms of office, and in the absence of any indication of a lack of sufficient and adequate safeguards against possible extraneous pressure, the Court has found nothing in the applicant’s submissions that could substantiate their concerns as to the independence of the Council of State and its members, the more so as this particular issue was not addressed in the challenge proceedings brought by Mr and Mrs Raymakers.