ECHR: Disproportionate sanction againsty lawyer for criticising judge
17-12-2015, 14:21  / ნანახია: 1712

European Courts

Disproportionate sanction imposed on lawyer who had criticised judges’ procedural decisions in pleadings - case of Bono v. France - violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights - The case concerned a disciplinary sanction imposed on Mr Bono, as lawyer acting for a suspected terrorist, S.A., for remarks made in his pleadings before the Court of Appeal. He claimed that the French investigating judges had been complicit in the torture of S.A. by the Syrian secret services and thus sought the exclusion of statements obtained through the use of torture.
The Court found that the remarks in question, as they were so harsh, clearly showed some contempt for the investigating judges. However, they did not refer to the judges personally but concerned the manner in which they had carried out the investigation. The written submissions, which had a factual basis, contributed directly to the defence of Mr Bono’s client and did not leave the courtroom. As Mr Bono had already been summoned to show moderation, during the hearing in the Paris Court of Appeal, the Court found that the disciplinary sanction was not proportionate.
While it was for judicial and disciplinary authorities, in the interest of the proper functioning of the justice system, to penalise certain conduct by lawyers, those authorities had to ensure that such scrutiny did not have a chilling effect that would hinder them in defending their clients’ interests.
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