European Court of Human Rights
22 June 1993

Facts

The applicant, Mr. Melin, who had previously worked as a lawyer was convicted of fraud and sentenced to a suspended prison term. The court of appeal upheld the judgment in a public hearing which the applicant attended. Two days later Mr. Melin, representing himself in the proceedings, submitted an appeal on points of law reserving the right to put forward other relevant grounds of appeal as soon he would receive a copy of the judgment. He never received the copy. Since no grounds had been put forward and the court found no procedural defects in the judgement, the appeal on points of law was dismissed.

Complaint

Mr. Melin claimed failure to send of the judgment of the court of appeal the court clerk’s failure to communicate the time limit for the appeal on points of law and the date of the hearing, prevented him from filing additional arguments with the Court of Cassation.

Court's ruling

The Court noted that Mr. Melin had previously practiced as a lawyer and worked in the chambers of a lawyer of Court of Cassation Bar. Therefore he knew that under French law the authorities did not have an obligation to serve him a judgement whose pronouncement he had attended. He also should have known that he could have consulted the original judgement or during the four and a half months between the appeal judgement and judgement of the Court of Cassation he could have requested a copy of the appeal judgment once more. He could also ask for the hearing of the court of cassation to be adjourned. The Court concluded that Mr. Melin could not claim that the authorities made it impossible for him to produce a memorial. As he had deliberately waived his right to be assisted by a lawyer, he was under a duty to show diligence himself. Accordingly, the Court ruled that Mr. Melin’s right to a fair trial had not been violated.

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