ECtHR, Moreira Ferreira v. Portugal
July 2017 – Portugal
The case concerned the rejection by the Supreme Court of a request lodged by the applicant for revision of a criminal judgment following a judgment delivered by the ECtHR on 5 July 2011. The application was lodged with the ECtHR on 30 March 2012. On 12 January 2016 the Chamber relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. The applicant is a Portuguese national who had been prosecuted and convicted for threatening and insulting conduct and ordered to pay damages to the victims. Ms Moreira Ferreira appealed against that first judgment but the court of appeal upheld the applicant’s conviction, although her sentence was reduced. Subsequently, she lodged an application with the ECtHR complaining that she had not been heard in person by the court of appeal. The ECtHR held that there had been a violation of Article 6 (1). As a result of the ECtHR’s decision, the applicant then lodged an application for review to the Supreme Court on grounds that according to the ECtHR’s judgment of 5 July 2011, the court of appeal’s judgment of 19 December 2007 was incompatible with Article 6 (1) of the ECHR. However, the Supreme Court refused to grant a review, given that it found that the lack of a hearing for the applicant in the Court of Appeal had constituted a procedural irregularity that was not amenable to review. Relying on Article 6 (1) (right to a fair trial), the applicant complained that the Supreme Court had incorrectly interpreted and applied the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the conclusions of the ECtHR’s 2011 judgment, thus depriving her of the right to have her conviction reviewed. The applicant further submitted that the Supreme Court’s dismissal of her application for review had been in breach of Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments). The Grand Chamber regarded the principle of subsidiarity and considered that the Supreme Court’s refusal to reopen the proceedings had not distorted or misrepresented that judgment and that the grounds on which it was based fell within the domestic authorities’ margin of appreciation.