15 January 2020

The European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) published the judgment on 14.01.2020 that the case relating to allegations of malfunctioning of the justice system and the disclosure of the identities in judicial decisions or documents that were made public in a case concerning adoption.

According to the application to the ECHR, Applicants X and Y, two Russian nationals who adopted two children, had changed their children's earlier names to remain anonymous.

However, the headteacher of their school disclosed the confidential information about adoption to her staff. After this, X and Y claimed damages, and they won the case in November 2014.

The Regional Court, published the judgment on its web site, with the applicant’s identities. After the applicants’ request, the judgment was removed from all public web sites and the President of the Regional Court issued two successive apologies to the applicants.

Yet, the applicants submitted two cases; claiming compensation for the non-pecuniary damage and disciplinary action against the President of the Regional Court. The High Council of the Judiciary examined the disciplinary action, and decided that no disciplinary fault had been committed according to the penalty prescribed by law. About the action for damages, The District Court declared since the damage did not cause by a criminal judgment of a judge, the action for the damages was inadmissible.

Hence, the ECHR reviewed the application under Article 8 of the Convention (right to respect for private and family life) and decided that the disclosure of the information concerning X and Y’s adoption of their children was an interference with their private life. It was also stated that domestic legislation providing those juridical decisions given in family-law cases, including adoption cases, should not be published on the internet.

About the remedy for the actions that have been perceived for the applicants, the ECHR found a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) considering the relation to Article 8. The Government explained the applicants must first be brought a criminal proceeding against the judge to brought civil proceeding under the Civil Code to possible compensation. On the other hand, the Government also pointed out the act had been committed by a member of the court registry, not by a judge and the State’s liability depended on a criminal act committed by a judge only. The Court stated, making the right dependant on a factor that was beyond the control of the victims was a malfunctioning of a justice system. Consequently, the Court considered that the remedy was not effective and found a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention, in respect of X and Y.

You can find the text of the judgment here.

Should you have any queries and/or remarks, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Kind regards,

Zumbul Attorneys-at-Law