European Court of Human Rights - case of Wettstein v. Switzerland (2001) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Wettstein v. Switzerland (2001) (excerpts)

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42.  According to the Court's constant case-law, when the impartiality of a tribunal for the purposes of Article 6 § 1 is being determined, regard must be had to the personal conviction and behaviour of a particular judge in a given case – the subjective approach – as well as to whether it afforded sufficient guarantees to exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect – the objective approach (see the Thomann v. Switzerland judgment of 10 June 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-III, p. 815, § 30).

43.  As regards the subjective aspect of such impartiality, the Court notes that there was nothing to indicate in the present case any prejudice or bias on the part of judges R. and L.

44.  There thus remains the objective test. Here, it must be determined whether, quite apart from the judge's conduct, there are ascertainable facts which may raise doubts as to his impartiality. In this respect even appearances may be of a certain importance. What is at stake is the confidence which the courts in a democratic society must inspire in the public (see the Castillo Algar v. Spain judgment of 28 October 1998, Reports 1998-VIII, p. 3116,

§ 45). This implies that in deciding whether in a given case there is a legitimate reason to fear that a particular judge lacks impartiality, the standpoint of the person concerned is important but not decisive. What is decisive is whether this fear can be held to be objectively justified (see the Ferrantelli and Santangelo v. Italy judgment of 7 August 1996, Reports

1996-III, pp. 951-52, § 58).