The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights was asked to consider whether the hearsay provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 are compatible with the right to confront adverse witnesses under article 6(3)(d) of the Convention.
The significance of the issue was underlined by the further judgment of the UK Supreme Court in R v Horncastle in December 2009, in which the Supreme Court declined to follow the ECtHR’s ruling pending further clarification by the Grand Chamber.
JUSTICE intervened by way of written submissions, arguing that many of the Supreme Court’s conclusions in Horncastle were flawed and, in particular, gave too little weight to the importance of an accused person’s common law right to confront the witnesses against him or her.
On 15 December 2011, the Grand Chamber ruled that these Article 6 entitlements do not inevitably lead to a breach of the Convention where the hearsay statements allowed in under UK law play a sole or decisive role.
Read the ECtHR judgment here.
Read JUSTICE’s Intervention in Al Khawaja
Read the Supreme Court’s judgment in R v Horncastle here.