Navarra v France (Series A, No 273-B; Application No 13190/87) EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS (1994) 17 EHRR 594, 23 NOVEMBER 1993

Speedy determination of lawfulness of detention


The applicant was remanded in custody on a charge of armed robbery from 22 November 1985 until 27 November 1987. During the period the applicant made six applications for release. He was subsequently released by the investigating judge who found no cause of action against the applicant. The applicant filed this complaint alleging that his Article 5(4) rights were violated because the lawfulness of his detention had not been speedily determined. The Court found Article 5(4) violation.

2. Detention: speedy determination (Art 5(4)).

Article 5(4) defers to the national legislatures. Hence, those legislatures have the right to set the substantive and procedural rules of judicial review with regards to detention must as long as those rules do not seem arbitrary. In this case, despite the delays for which the public authorities may be held liable, the periodic reviews were conducted within the national time-limits. The public authorities' liability was skirted because the applicant did not exercise his right to submit applications for release between March 1986 and March 1987 and waited until later.

Article 5(4) does not require the establishment of a second level of jurisdiction for the examination of the lawfulness of detention. If such a system exists, however, it must accord detainees the same rights on appeal as at first instance, including the right to have decisions given speedily


The following cases are referred to in the judgment:

1. BOUAMAR v BELGIUM (A/129): (1988) 11 EHRR 1.
2. HERCZEGFALVY v AUSTRIA (A/242-B): (1992) 15 EHRR 437.
3. LETELLIER v FRANCE (A/207): (1991) 14 EHRR 83.
4. LUBERTI v ITALY (A/75): (1984) 6 EHRR 440.
5. TOMASI v FRANCE (A/241-A): (1992) 15 EHRR 1.
6. TOTH v AUSTRIA (A/224): (1991) 14 EHRR 551.
7. VERNILLO v FRANCE (A/198): (1991) 13 EHRR 880.

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