Pishchalnikov v Russia: ECHR 24 Sep 2009

(First Section) The applicant was interrogated while he was under arrest in police custody. He asked for the assistance of a lawyer during his interrogation, but this was disregarded by the investigator who proceeded to question him. It was argued that his decision then to confess his guilt to the investigator constituted an implied waiver of his right to counsel.
Held: The statements, made without having had access to counsel, did not amount to a valid waiver of his right. The right to silence and the right not to incriminate oneself are generally recognised international standards which lie at the heart of a fair procedure under article 6.
The Court discussed the right to counsel: ‘A waiver of the right, once invoked, must not only be voluntary, but must also constitute a knowing and intelligent relinquishment of a right. Before an accused can be said to have implicitly, through his conduct, waived an important right under article 6, it must be shown that he could reasonably have foreseen what the consequences of his conduct would be.
The Court considers that the right to counsel, being a fundamental right among those which constitute the notion of fair trial and ensuring the effectiveness of the rest of the foreseen guarantees of article 6 of the Convention, is a prime example of those rights which require the special protection of the knowing and intelligent waiver standard. It is not to be ruled out that, after initially being advised of his rights, an accused may himself validly waive his rights and respond to interrogation. However, the Court strongly indicates that additional safeguards are necessary when the accused asks for counsel because if an accused has no lawyer, he has less chance of being informed of his rights and, as a consequence, there is less chance that they will be respected.’ and
‘Furthermore, the Court does not rule out that, in a situation when his request for assistance by counsel had been left without adequate response, the applicant who, as it follows from the case file, had had no previous encounters with the police, did not understand what was required to stop the interrogation. The Court is mindful that the applicant may not have had sufficient knowledge, experience, or even sufficient self-confidence to make the best choice without the advice and support of a lawyer. It is possible that he did not object to further questioning in the absence of legal assistance, seeing the confession (true or not) as the only way to end the interrogation. Given the lack of legal assistance the Court considers it also unlikely that the applicant could reasonably have appreciated the consequences of his proceeding to be questioned without the assistance of counsel in a criminal case concerning the investigation of a number of particularly grave criminal offences.’


Christos Rozakis, President


7025/04, [2009] ECHR 1357




European Convention on Human Rights


CitedSalduz v Turkey ECHR 27-Nov-2008
(Grand Chamber) The applicant had been taken into custody before he was interrogated during his detention by police officers of the anti-terrorism branch of the Izmir Security Directorate.
Held: There had been a violation of art 6(3)(c) of the . .

Cited by:

CitedAmbrose v Harris, Procurator Fiscal, Oban, etc SC 6-Oct-2011
(Scotland) The appellant had variously been convicted in reliance on evidence gathered at different stages before arrest, but in each case without being informed of any right to see a solicitor. The court was asked, as a devolution issue, at what . .
CitedMcGowan (Procurator Fiscal) v B SC 23-Nov-2011
The appellant complained that after arrest, though he had been advised of his right to legal advice, and had declined the offer, it was still wrong to have his subsequent interview relied upon at his trial.
Held: It was not incompatible with . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Criminal Practice, Legal Professions

Updated: 04 August 2022; Ref: scu.375496