I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

Template to request access to the case file

FairTrialsAdmin - May 28, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Guides, Access to a lawyer

Read the story of Livio, whose lawyer faced restricted access to his case file during the COVID-19 crisis, and learn how EU law can help him! Livio's story is fictional but is inspired by similar events* that have happened across Europe during the pandemic.

Livio was arrested and detained during the COVID19-crisis on charges of weapons trafficking. To ensure public health safety, all non-urgent requests of access to files had been suspended. Livio’s lawyer was therefore not able to access the file during the investigation. As Livio’s first hearing approached, his lawyer was finally granted access at a specific time and date in order to limit the number of people in the facilities at any given time. Livio’s lawyer is concerned that these restrictions will impact the equality of arms as the time and facilities to prepare the file are not adequate. 

Under EU law, Member States must ensure timely access to all documents essential to effectively challenge the lawfulness of arrest or detention. Lawyers must be granted access to be able to challenge the reasonableness of the grounds for suspicion justifying the arrest, the legitimacy of the purpose pursued by the arrest, and the justification for the ensuing detention. 

 

Have you recently experienced a similar challenge? Are you a criminal lawyer whose client has faced the same issues?  

Fair Trials has produced two templates based on relevant EU standards : 

  • to request access to the case file to challenge detention;  

  • to request access to the case file - in all the other situations. 

Download the templates here or view the pdf version in your browser here.

These templates are part of a toolkit which aims to equip lawyers with arguments to address the threat to the right to a lawyer as a result of measures adopted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more here.

 

* Examples include: 

  • Belgium:  All non-urgent requests to review files were suspended, e.g. a request to review the file in an ongoing investigation. Access is limited to cases where a detainee will appear before a pre-trial-court: lawyers are granted access for two days within the opening hours of the registry. There is no secure system for online access to case files.  

  • Portugal: To access the case file, lawyers have to submit a special request and, if permitted, they need to schedule a specific time and date in order to limit the numbers of persons present in the Court.  

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.