Miailhe v France (Series A, No 256-C; Application No 12661/87) European Court of Human Rights (1993) 16 EHRR 332 25 February 1993

Search and seizure


The three applicants complained that the search and seizures made by customs officers at their house in France infringed Articles 8 and 13.

1. Respect for Private Life and Correspondence: interference, in accordance with the law, legitimate aim, proportionality (Art 8(1) and (2)).

The Court found that it was unnecessary to ascertain whether the applicants' house may be considered a 'home' for purposes of Article 8(1). The Court found that it was sufficient to note that there had been interference with the applicants' private life and correspondence.

As long as an interference is incompatible with Article 8, the Court does not have to determine whether that interference was judicially authorized. The court found that a legitimate interest exists in the attempts of a State to prevent capital outflows and tax evasion which in turn may allow the authorities search houses and seize documents However, any search and seizure order cannot be arbitrary.

The following cases are cited in the judgment:

1. NIEMIETZ v GERMANY (1992) Series A no 251-B, p 34, paras 30-31. 
2. Decision no 83-164 DC of 29 December 1983, Official Gazette (Journal Officiel), 30 December 1983, p 3874.
3. KLASS AND OTHERS v GERMANY (A/28): (1978) 2 EHRR 214.

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