European Court of Human Rights - case of Lala v. The Netherlands (1994) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Lala v. the Netherlands (1994) (excerpts)


33. The case-law in question may however - as the Government

argued - well be understood to serve the above purpose, because, as

this Court pointed out in its Poitrimol judgment (loc. cit., p. 15,

para. 35), in the interests of a fair and just criminal process it is

of capital importance that the accused should appear at his trial. As

a general rule, this is equally true for an appeal by way of rehearing.

However, it is also of crucial importance for the fairness of the

criminal justice system that the accused be adequately defended, both

at first instance and on appeal, the more so if, as is the case under

Netherlands law, no objection may be filed against a default judgment

given on appeal.

In the Court's view the latter interest prevails.

Consequently, the fact that the defendant, in spite of having been

properly summoned, does not appear, cannot - even in the absence of an

excuse - justify depriving him of his right under Article 6 para. 3

(art. 6-3) of the Convention to be defended by counsel.