European Court of Human Rights - case of Ezeh and Connors v. the UK (2002)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Ezeh and Connors v. the UK (2002)

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56.  It was not, however, disputed that the applicability of Article 6 fell to be assessed on the basis of the criteria outlined in the above-cited Engel and Others judgment (see §§ 82-83):

“..., it is first necessary to know whether the provision(s) defining the offence charged belong, according to the legal system of the respondent State, to criminal law, disciplinary law or both concurrently. This however provides no more than a starting point. The indications so afforded have only a formal and relative value and must be examined in the light of the common denominator of the respective legislation of the various Contracting States.

The very nature of the offence is a factor of greater import. ...

However, supervision by the Court does not stop there. Such supervision would generally prove to be illusory if it did not also take into consideration the degree of severity of the penalty that the person concerned risks incurring. In a society subscribing to the rule of law, there belong to the “criminal” sphere deprivations of liberty liable to be imposed as a punishment, except those which by their nature, duration or manner of execution cannot be appreciably detrimental....

It is on the basis of all these criteria that the Court will ascertain whether some or all of the applicants were the subject of a “criminal charge” within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention”.