The judgment in the case of Rutar and Rutar Marketing D.O.O. v. Slovenia (21164/20, 15.12.2022) is another application by the ECHR of its doctrine on the obligation under Article 6 of the Convention (right to a fair trial) for last instance domestic courts to give reasons, based on the relevant Luxembourg case-law, as to why they would not make a request for a preliminary ruling by the CJEU (Art. 267 TFEU) despite a request to that effect by a party to the proceedings (see, previously, among others, Quintanel and Others v. France).
The case concerned minor offence proceedings in Slovenia for breach of the Consumer Protection Act. Its particularity lies in the fact that the constitutional complaint filed by the applicants was declared inadmissible for formal reasons which however the ECHR was not prepared to accept as entailing the consequence that the applicants would not have exhausted domestic remedies as prescribed by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention (§ 49).
The Local Court, which was the first-instance court and the only one to decide the case on the merits (§ 61), was therefore considered by the ECHR to be bound in principle by Article 267 TFEU to refer any relevant issues to the CJEU. This finding was confirmed by the fact that the respondent Government had not argued that a complaint before the Constitutional Court, which had jurisdiction to decide cases as the present one only on an exceptional basis, should be regarded in the circumstances of the present case as the only judicial remedy triggering an obligation under Art. 267 TFEU. The ECHR added however: “Be that as it may, the Court notes that neither the Nova Gorica Local Court nor the Constitutional Court at all addressed the applicants’ request to seek a preliminary ruling, nor any other of their legal arguments.” (§ 63)
As the applicants had explicitly requested the Local Court to make such a request concerning the interpretation of the “Unfair Commercial Practices Directive” (2005/29/EC) and the Local Court ignored that request, Article 6 § 1 of the Convention was found by the ECHR to have been breached.