A v The United Kingdom: ECHR 17 Dec 2002

The applicant complained that the absence of legal aid to allow a challenge what had been said about her in Parliament by way of defamation, violated her right of access to court.
Held: The right to absolute parliamentary privilege was within the margin of freedom enjoyed by a nation state. The applicant was not left entirely without remedy, and the freedom of parliament was properly to be protected. As to the availability of legal aid, limited legal advice was available, and a conditional fee arrangement might also have been available. ‘However, the right of access to court is not absolute, but may be subject to limitations. These are permitted by implication since the right of access by its very nature calls for regulation by the State. In this respect, the Contracting States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation, although the final decision as to the observance of the Convention’s requirements rests with the Court. It must be satisfied that the limitations applied do not restrict or reduce the access left to the individual in such a way or to such an extent that the very essence of the right is impaired. Furthermore, a limitation will not be compatible with Article 6(1) if it does not pursue a legitimate aim and if there is no reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be achieved.’


Times 28-Dec-2002, 35373/97, [2002] ECHR 805, (2002) 36 EHRR 917, [2002] ECHR 811


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 6 8.1

Cited by:

CitedGray v Avadis QBD 30-Jul-2003
The claimant had made complaints against the defendant solicitor to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. In answer the defendant made assertions about the claimant’s mental health, and she now sought to bring action iin defamation on those . .
CitedPolanski v Conde Nast Publications Ltd HL 10-Feb-2005
The claimant wished to pursue his claim for defamation against the defendant, but was reluctant to return to the UK to give evidence, fearing arrest and extradition to the US. He appealed refusal of permission to be interviewed on video tape. Held . .
CitedWestcott v Westcott CA 15-Jul-2008
The defendant was the claimant’s daughter in law. In the course of a bitter divorce she made allegations to the police which were investigated but did not lead to a prosecution. The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for defamation on the . .
CitedGoodwin v NGN Ltd and VBN QBD 9-Jun-2011
The claimant had obtained an injunction preventing publication of his name and that of his coworker with whom he had had an affair. After widespread publication of his name elsewhere, the defendant had secured the discharge of the order as regards . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Defamation, Legal Aid, Constitutional

Updated: 06 June 2022; Ref: scu.178596