Oberschlick v Austria: ECHR 23 May 1991

A journalist was convicted by a court which regarded itself as bound by the opinion of the court of appeal which had remitted his case to the lower court for trial after it had been dismissed by that court. The judge who presided over the court of appeal was the same judge as had presided over it on the first occasion, contrary to the code of criminal procedure. The journalist complained that the court of appeal on the second occasion was not an independent and impartial tribunal.
Held: An argument that he had impliedly waived that right because he had not raised this objection at the hearing of his appeal was rejected, on the ground that neither he nor his counsel were aware until well after the hearing of all the circumstances that provided grounds for objecting to the tribunal on the grounds of impartiality.
The Court reiterated that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and that the safeguards to be afforded to the press are of particular importance. Whilst the press must not overstep the bounds set, inter alia, in the interests of ‘the protection of the reputation and rights of others’, it is nevertheless to impart information and ideas of public interest. Not only does the press have the task of imparting such information and ideas: the public also has a right to receive them. Were it otherwise, the press would be unable to play its vital role of ‘public watchdog’. Although formulated primarily with regard to the print media, these principles doubtless apply also to the audio-visual media.
(1991) 19 EHHR 389, 11662/85, [1991] ECHR 30
Worldlii, Bailii
European Court of Human Rights 10
Human Rights
Cited by:
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CitedMcGowan (Procurator Fiscal) v B SC 23-Nov-2011
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 September 2021; Ref: scu.165117