European Court of Human Rights - case of Czekalla v. Portugal (2002) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Czekalla v. Portugal (2002) (excerpts)

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60.  The Court next refers to the principles it has laid down in its case-law on the subject of legal assistance. While it has frequently observed that the Convention is designed to guarantee not rights that are theoretical or illusory but rights that are practical and effective, assigning counsel does not in itself ensure the effectiveness of the assistance he may afford an accused. Nevertheless, a State cannot be held responsible for every shortcoming on the part of a lawyer appointed for legal-aid purposes. It follows from the independence of the legal profession from the State that the conduct of the defence is essentially a matter between the defendant and his counsel, whether appointed under a legal-aid scheme or privately financed. The competent national authorities are required under Article 6 § 3 (c) to intervene only if a failure by legal-aid counsel to provide effective representation is manifest or sufficiently brought to their attention in some other way (see Daud, cited above, pp. 749-50, § 38).

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62.  Unlike the position in Daud, it cannot be said that Ms T.M. failed to lend her assistance to the applicant during the first-instance proceedings. On the other hand, the question arises whether the fact that the officially appointed defence counsel lodged an appeal without complying with the formal requirements of Portuguese law and the Supreme Court can be regarded as a “manifest failure”.