European Court of Human Rights
28 January 2003

Facts

The applicants, six French nationals, initiated court proceedings against their employer concerning their working agreement. The court of first instance decided in favor of the applicants, but after an appeal was submitted by the employer, the court of appeals varied the judgment. The applicants submitted an appeal on points of law, but the Court of Cassation ruled that their ground of appeal was not “such as to warrant admitting the appeal”.

Complaint

The applicants complained that the proceedings had not been fair, in that the Court of Cassation had declared their appeal inadmissible without giving reasons for it.

Court’s ruling

The Court reiterated that courts are obliged to give reasons for their decisions, however they are not required to give detailed answer to every argument. Courts must reply to parties’ essential arguments, but the extent to which that duty applies may vary in accordance with the nature of the decision and must therefore be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case. The Court continued that the right to fair trial does not require detailed reasons to be given for a decision in which an appellate court, applying a specific legal provision, dismisses an appeal as having no prospects of success. As the Court found that the Court of Cassation based its decision on a particular provision of domestic law, it decided that the applicants’ complaint was manifestly ill-founded and therefore had to be dismissed.

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