Valenzuela Contreras v. Spain (58/1997/842/1048) 30 July 1998: monitoring of telephone line in connection with criminal proceedings against subscriber -- Foreseeability of law: telephone taps constituted serious interference with right to respect for private life and correspondence – had to be based on an especially precise "law".

Spain – monitoring of telephone line in connection with criminal proceedings against subscriber

I. ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION

Compass of case delimited by Commission’s decision on admissibility – Court had no jurisdiction to revive issues declared inadmissible.

Conclusion : no jurisdiction (unanimously).

II. ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION

A. Applicability

Telephone calls from a person’s home came within notions of "private life" and "correspondence" referred to in Article 8 1 – point not disputed.

B. Compliance

(a) General principles

Recapitulation of Court’s case-law.

(b) Application of those principles in instant case

1. Whether there has been an interference

Tapping of applicant’s telephone line constituted "interference by a public authority" in exercise of right to respect for his private life and correspondence – point not disputed.

2. Was interference justified?

(i) Was interference "in accordance with the law"?

Not contested that there was legal basis in Spanish law.

No doubt in instant case that law was accessible.

Foreseeability of law: telephone taps constituted serious interference with right to respect for private life and correspondence – had to be based on an especially precise "law".

In sphere of monitoring telephone communications guarantees stating extent of authorities’ discretion and manner in which it was to be exercised had to be set out in detail in domestic law in order for it to have binding force which circumscribed judges’ discretion in application of such measures – Spanish law did not indicate with sufficient certainty at material time extent of authorities’ discretion in domain concerned or way in which it was to be exercised – evolution in legislation and case-law on subject had not begun until after order to monitor applicant’s telephone line had been made.

Conclusion : violation (unanimously).

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