Press release 420(2005)

 

European Court of Human Rights - Chamber judgment (just satisfaction) - von Hannover v. Germany

 

The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing a Chamber judgment dealing with the question of just satisfaction in the case of von Hannover v. Germany (application no. 59320/00).

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the case has been struck out following a friendly settlement in which 10,000 euros (EUR) is to be paid for any non-pecuniary damage and EUR 105,000 for costs and expenses. (The judgment is available only in English.)

Today’s judgment does not change the Court’s findings in its principal Chamber judgment in the case, which was delivered on 24 June 2004. In that judgment the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, in that the German courts had failed effectively to protect the applicant’s private life against interferences resulting from the publication by various German magazines of photos of her in her daily life. The question of just satisfaction was not ready for decision at that time.

1. Principal facts

The applicant, Princess Caroline von Hannover, was born in 1957 and is the sister of Prince Albert II of Monaco. She is a national of Monaco, where she lives.

Since the beginning of the 1990s Princess Caroline von Hannover has been campaigning – often through the courts – in various European countries to prevent photographs about her private life being published in the sensationalist press.

She has on several occasions unsuccessfully applied to the German courts for an injunction preventing any further publication of a series of photographs which had appeared in the 1990s in the German magazines Bunte, Freizeit Revue and Neue Post. She claimed that they infringed her right to protection of her private life and her right to control the use of her image.

In a landmark judgment of 15 December 1999 the Federal Constitutional Court granted the applicant’s injunction regarding the photographs in which she appeared with her children on the ground that their need for protection of their intimacy was greater than that of adults.

However, the Constitutional Court considered that the applicant, who was undeniably a contemporary “public figure”, had to tolerate the publication of photographs of herself in a public place, even if they showed her in scenes from her daily life rather than engaged in her official duties. The Constitutional Court referred in that connection to the freedom of the press and to the public’s legitimate interest in knowing how such a person generally behaved in public.

2. Procedure and composition of the Court

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 6 June 2000 and declared admissible on 8 July 2003. The principal Chamber judgment in the case was delivered on 24 June 2004.

Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven judges, composed as follows:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto (Portuguese), President,
Georg Ress (German),
Lucius Caflisch (Swiss)1 ,
Riza Türmen (Turkish),
Boštjan M. Zupančič (Slovenian),
John Hedigan (Irish),
Kristaq Traja (Albanian), judges,
and also Vincent Berger, Section Registrar.

3. Complaints

The applicant maintained that the decisions of the German courts infringed her right to respect for her private life, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention, since they failed to afford her adequate protection from the publication of photographs taken without her knowledge by paparazzi on the ground that, in view of her origins, she was undeniably a contemporary “public figure”. She also complained of an infringement of her right to respect for her family life.

 

1. Judge elected in respect of Liechtenstein. 

The Court’s judgments are accessible on its Internet site (http://www.echr.coe.int).

Registry of the European Court of Human Rights
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Press contacts:
Roderick Liddell (telephone: +00 33 (0)3 88 41 24 92)
Emma Hellyer (telephone: +00 33 (0)3 90 21 42 15)
Stéphanie Klein (telephone: +00 33 (0)3 88 41 21 54)

Fax: +00 33 (0)3 88 41 27 91

The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1 November 1998 it has sat as a full-time Court composed of an equal number of judges to that of the States party to the Convention. The Court examines the admissibility and merits of applications submitted to it. It sits in Chambers of 7 judges or, in exceptional cases, as a Grand Chamber of 17 judges. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments. More detailed information about the Court and its activities can be found on its Internet site.



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