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Case-Law of the European Court of Human Rights in 1994

NCJ Number
European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: (1995) Pages: 281-304
B Swart
Date Published
24 pages
This description of the 1994 decisions of the European Court of Human Rights encompasses the following issues: determination of a criminal charge, independent and impartial tribunal, trial in the absence of the accused, trial within a reasonable time, disclosure of evidence and equality of arms, legal assistance, other aspects of a fair trial, deprivation of liberty, right of privacy, freedom of expression, inhumane and degrading treatment, and Protocols 1 and 4.
The most important 1994 decision of the European Court of Human Rights dealt with the relevance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights to the imposition of repressive sanctions by administrative bodies. The main question before the Court was whether Article 6 is applicable to proceedings in which surcharges are imposed by tax authorities and their decisions reviewed by administrative courts. The Court answered this question in the affirmative. According to the Court, the relevant provision in the General Tax Code that enables the imposition of a fiscal fine covers all citizens in their capacity as taxpayers, and not a given group with a particular status. Also, the tax surcharges are intended not as pecuniary compensation for damage but essentially as a punishment to deter reoffending. Moreover, they are imposed under a general rule whose purpose is both deterrence and punitiveness. Further, in the case in question the surcharges were substantial, amounting to more than 400,000 French francs. If the accused failed to pay, he was liable to be sent to prison by the criminal courts. 13 footnotes


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