The European Court of Human Rights recently reviewed disciplinary proceedings against a former judge that had taken place in the Supreme Court in 2006 and resulted in the judge's dismissal.

Facts

In 2005 the Supreme Court received allegations of misconduct against Costas Kamenos concerning his judicial duties while acting as a judge and chair of the Employment Disputes Tribunal. Kamenos was given a statement of the complaints and asked to respond. The Supreme Court instructed another judge to investigate the allegations, who subsequently produced a report on the evidence gathered from witnesses and Kamenos. The Supreme Court then charged Kamenos with misconduct and summoned him to appear before the Supreme Council of Judicature (SCJ), which has exclusive competence for the dismissal of judges and disciplinary matters.

During the disciplinary proceedings before the SCJ, evidence supporting the charges against Kamenos was heard and witnesses concerned were cross-examined by his lawyer. Kamenos then set out his defence case in which he testified and called 36 witnesses. He submitted that the proceedings were contrary to the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as the Supreme Court and the SCJ had had the same composition and the judges who had presided over the proceedings were the same individuals who had:

  • examined the witness statements against him;
  • referred the case to trial;
  • formulated the charges against him; and
  • acted as a prosecution authority in the proceedings.

The SCJ rejected Kamenos's allegation of an unfair trial and ruled that the accusations against him were proven, leading to him being dismissed from his position as a judge.(1)

Kamenos complained to the European Court of Human Rights that the proceedings against him had been unfair, relying on Articles 6(1) and (2) (right to a fair trial and hearing, respectively) of the European Convention on Human Rights.(2) First, Kamenos stated that he had been accused, tried and convicted by the same judges and that, as a result, the principle of impartiality had been violated. Second, he claimed that the SCJ had accepted evidence – such as records from proceedings that he had presided over as chair of the Employment Disputes Tribunal – which had not been disclosed to him before the trial.

Decision

The European Court of Human Rights delivered its decision on October 31 2017. It found by a majority of six votes to one that the disciplinary proceedings in Cyprus were in breach of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered the Cyprus government to pay Kamenos €7,800 in non-pecuniary damages and €10,000 in costs.

For further information on this topic please contact Maria Hadjisavva at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC by telephone (+357 25 110 110) or email (maria.hadjisavva@neo.law). The Elias Neocleous & Co LLC website can be accessed at www.neo.law.

Endnotes

(1) Application 1/2015 in relation to Articles 112.4, 153.7(4) and 153.8(1)(2)(β) and (3)(4) of the Constitution.

(2) Kamenos v Cyprus (Application 147/07).

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