Recent Case Law

In the case of Dumitru-Tudor Dorobantu (15.10.2019), a Grand Chamber of the CJEU confirmed and specified its case-law on the execution of a European arrest warrant in the face of a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment, in this case a risk arising out of the conditions of detention in the issuing Member State. Relying on Article 52(3) of the EU-Charter, the CJEU confirmed the absolute nature of the prohibition of ill-treatment as it resulted from Article 4 of the EU-Charter, which corresponded to Article 3 of the Convention. Still on the basis of Article 52(3) of the EU-Charter, the CJEU referred to the Mursic-jurisprudence of the ECHR (20.10.2016) for the assessment of the level of severity of conditions of detention. Interestingly, in § 57 of its judgment the CJEU also relied on the Romeo Castaño-jurisprudence of the ECHR (see below), holding that under the Convention, the refusal by a Member State to execute a European arrest warrant by reason of a risk of ill-treatment in the issuing State had to be based on an up-to-date and detailed examination of the situation as it existed at the time of the decision not to execute the warrant. The CJEU thereby apparently ignored the fact that the Romeo Castaño-jurisprudence has so far only been applied by the ECHR in respect of criminal proceedings falling under the scope of Article 2 of the Convention, i.e. in the event of a homicide, which is not the case in Dorobantu.

In Gambino and Hyka (29.7.2019) the CJEU, relying on Articles 47 and 48 of the Charter and, by virtue of Article 52(3) of the Charter, on the case-law of the ECHR on the right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the Convention), ruled that Articles 16 and 18 of Directive 2012/29/EU on the rights of victims of crime do not prevent the victim of a criminal offence from having to be heard a second time following a change in the composition of the bench, if one of the parties to the proceedings so wishes.

In Funke Medien NRW GmbH v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland (29.7.2019) a Grand Chamber of the CJEU applied Directive 2001/29/EC (on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society) to a set of facts concerning the publication by a newspaper of certain documents “classified for restricted access” drawn up by the German Government and relating to the operation of the German army in Afghanistan. In examining the scope of the exceptions for the benefit of the press and the information of the public, provided for in Article 5 of the directive, the CJEU stated the need for a fair balance to be struck between the protection of intellectual property (Article 17(2) of the Charter) and the freedom of expression and information (Article 11 of the Charter). In this connection, the CJEU referred, by virtue of Article 52(3) of the Charter, to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights according to which, in balancing copyright against freedom of expression, due consideration was to be given to the nature of the expression or information at stake and in particular to the question whether it concerned matters of public interest. Given that the CJEU leaves it to the national courts to strike this balance which, at the end of the day, can be challenged by way of an application to the Strasbourg Court against the final domestic judgment, reliance by the CJEU on the Strasbourg case-law would appear to also serve the interests of domestic judges.

In Mihalache v. Romania (8.7.2019) a Grand Chamber of the ECHR had to determine whether a public prosecutor’s order discontinuing criminal proceedings while imposing a fine on the applicant was a “final acquittal or conviction” triggering the application of the non bis in idem principle as laid down in Article 4 of Protocol No 7 to the Convention. In answering that question the ECHR relied on a series of criteria (determination as to the merits, availability of ordinary remedies, expiry of the time-limit within which those remedies are to be used) which in substance coincide with those relied on by the CJEU in similar cases such as Piotr Kossowski v. Generalstaatsanwaltschaft Hamburg (C-486/14). Only when a penalty has been imposed does EU law depart from Article 4 of Protocol No 7 in that Article 54 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement requires, as a condition for the application of the non bis in idem principle, that the penalty has been enforced, is in the process of being enforced or can no longer be enforced under the laws of the sentencing Member State (see Spasic, C-129/14).

In Melvin West v. Hungary (decision, 25.6.2019) the ECHR confirmed that Article 6 of the Convention does not apply to the procedure for the execution of a European Arrest warrant but that, by virtue of Article 5 § 1 f) of the Convention, any detention with a view to transferring the person concerned to the issuing Member State has to be in compliance with the relevant domestic and European Union law, which it is primarily for the national authorities to interpret. Moreover, Article 5 prohibits any transfer of a person to a country where he or she would be exposed to a real risk of a flagrant breach of this provision. Finally, the ECHR reiterated that there is no basis under Article 8 of the Convention for a convicted person to avoid having to serve a prison sentence in a foreign country.

In Romeo Castaño v. Belgium (9.7.2019) the ECHR confirmed the applicability of Article 3 of the Convention to the execution by EU Member States of a European Arrest Warrant but extended its scrutiny to Article 2 of the Convention in cases where a European Arrest Warrant has been issued with a view to enabling criminal proceedings for homicide in the issuing State to go ahead. In such cases, Article 2 imposes on the executing State an obligation to cooperate with the issuing State in facilitating those criminal proceedings, notably by transferring the person who is the subject of the European Arrest Warrant, without however ignoring the limits to such a transfer flowing from Article 3 of the Convention. Any refusal of a transfer on this ground should therefore be duly reasoned by reference to updated and individualised information.

In Nodet v. France (6.6.2019) the ECHR applied the non bis in idem principle according to its recent A. & B. v. Norway jurisprudence (24130/11 and 29758/11, 15.11.2016), which is in some contrast with the Menci jurisprudence of the CJEU (C-524/15, 20.3.2018), also mentioned in the Nodet judgment (at § 31).

In Repcevirag Szövetkezet v. Hungary (30.4.2019) the ECHR examined whether the Kúria breached Article 6 of the Convention by refusing to request a preliminary ruling by the CJEU in proceedings relating to an action in tort against Hungary for infringement of European Union law (Köbler case-law).

In Baltic Master Ltd. v. Lithuania (16.4.2019) the ECHR found a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention on the ground that the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania had not made sufficiently clear in its judgment on what specific legal grounds it had considered the application of EU law to be so obvious that no referral to the CJEU was required under Article 267 TFEU, despite the applicant company’s request to that effect. What is also noteworthy about this judgment is that it was given by a Committee of three judges acting under Article 28 § 1 b) of the Convention, the outcome of this case being considered to flow from well-established case-law within the meaning of that provision.

In Harisch v. Germany (11.4.2019) the ECHR assessed compliance with Article 6 of the Convention of the failure by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), in the context of its examination of a refusal of leave to appeal, to give reasons for its refusal to request a preliminary ruling from the CJEU (Art. 267 TFEU).

In Jawo v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland (19.3.2019) the CJEU inter alia further specified the impact of Article 4 of the EU-Charter on the execution of the Dublin Regulation and drew on the M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece judgment of the ECHR. It also described the relationship between systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure of a Member State and the requirement of an individual assessment of the situation of asylum seekers.

In TC (12.2.2019) the CJEU examined in light of Article 6 of the EU-Charter and 5 of the Convention whether the time limits for adoption of the decision to execute a European Arrest Warrant can be suspended.

In Pirozzi v. Belgium (17.4.2018) the ECHR applied the Avotiņš-jurisprudence to the execution of a European Arrest Warrant. In this jurisprudence (Avotiņš v. Latvia, 23.5.2016) the ECHR set out its approach to the mutual recognition mechanisms established under EU law.

In Thimothawes v. Belgium (4.4.2017) the ECHR explained the impact of EU law when assessing compliance with Article 5 of the Convention of a detention ordered by virtue of domestic law transposing the Reception Directive.