Croissant v Germany (Series A, No 237-B, Application No 13611/88) EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS (1993) 16 EHRR 135, 25 SEPTEMBER 1992


The applicant, a German national, faced criminal charges in connection with his activities as the lawyer of various members of the 'Red Army Faction' or RAF. He was initially represented by two lawyers of his choice and then added another three lawyers. A court however, appointed another lawyer to his team. The applicant objected to that lawyer largely because he was not confident in his abilities.  Eventually the applicant was convicted and he was ordered to pay fees to all three attorneys. The applicant appealed the fees to higher courts but was rejected. The applicant files this suit alleging violation under Article 6(1) and (3)(c ). The court found that ordering the applicant to pay fees to the other lawyers did not violate Article(1) (3) (c).

1. Criminal proceedings: right to legal assistance and appointment of lawyers. (Article 6(1) and (3)(c)).

- Appointment that is contrary to the accused wishes with regards to number and person of defense attorneys is incompatible with the notion of a fair trial. However, a court may appoint additional counsel for the interests of justice. For example, if the appointment of an additional lawyer prevents any interruptions or adjournments of a trial or ensuring that a defendant was adequately represented throughout the trial.

A defendant's right to choose his own lawyers is subject to various limitations and constraints. These constraints include: the adequacy and availability of free legal aid and the courts opinion as to whether further counsel is required.

Free legal assistance is to be provided under Article 6(3)(c) only if the accused has insufficient means to pay counsel.

The following cases were referred to in the judgment:

2. PAKELLI v GERMANY (A/64): (1983) 6 EHRR 1.

The following further cases were referred to in the Commission's Opinion:

3. ARTICO v ITALY (A/37): (1980) 3 EHRR 1.
4. BONISCH v AUSTRIA (A/92): (1985) 13 EHRR 409.

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