Since July 2007, my menfolk and I have been battling for justice through the French Courts. It has been a long, very hard struggle, Tom has been dogged by failing health that we know has been compounded by the stresses and hardship associated with living in a tent through some of the harshest winters to hit Europe for at least a generation.
Our young grandson has been educated, to date – by his ‘nanny-teacher’! Thank goodness my own grandmother determined that I would embrace a teaching career, that has proved to be invaluable where grandson’s future is concerned. Good old nan, my maternal grandmother, she must have had a crystal ball!
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, we have travelled the length and breadth of France. We have paddled with grandson and tiny fishes in the Mediterranean Sea. We have discovered peace and tranquility, sun, sea and pristine clean sand on the Atlantic beach of Saint Georges de Didonne. We have climbed the French/Italian Alps – albeit, without that intention! We have slept in the Pyrenees…er…we didn’t actually get any sleep! We have woken to find our tent ‘door’ barricaded by a two metres high snowdrift! We have sung silly ditties all night to stay awake – and alive! We have watched eagles hunt for food, we have also photographed the mating ritual of a pair of Western Whips! We have seen and learned so much about this beautiful country, my book will tell the whole story.
Most important, we have laughed as much as we have cried, and, despite all efforts by the French judiciary and bureaucrats to empty our cup – it is still half full, voila!
However, I have digressed – today, we received a letter from the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, telling us that it’s all over, we have no right of appeal. Despite the hardships we have endured, despite the French Appeal Court judiciary ‘recognising the fraud’ committed by our sellers, it appears that we have lost our fight for justice in France. We’ll see.
This is the (reproduced) letter we received from the ECHR today, plus a translation for those who do not have adequate French language skills to translate for themselves. The letter is dated 14th February 2013. As has been the situation throughout our hobo lifestyle, to date, we are not able to receive our mail as it arrives, we receive it as and when we can collect it, when Tom is well enough to drive, or when our neighbour in the village has a safe address onto which she can send the post she collects for us.
Je me réfère à votre requete introduite le 8 juin 2010 et enregistrée sous le numéro susmentionné.
Je porte à votre connaissance que la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme, siégeant entre le 24 janvier 2013 et le 7 février 2013 en formation de juge unique (………….. assistée d’un rapporteur conformément à l’article 24.2 de la Convention), a décidé de déclarer votre requete irrecevable. Cette décision a été rendue à cette dernière date.
Compte tenu de l’ensemble des éléments en sa possession et dans la mesure ou elle est compétente pour connaitre des allégations formulées, la Cour a estimé que les conditions de recevabilité prévues par les articles 34 et 35 de la Convention n’ont pas été remplies.
Cette décision est définitive. Elle n’est susceptible d’aucun recours que ce soit devant la Grande Chambre ou un autre organe. Le greffe ne sera pas en mesure de vous fournir d’autres précisions sur la décision du juge unique. Dèes lors, vous ne recevrez plus de lettres de la Cour concernant cette requete. Conformément aux directives de la Cour, votre dossier sera détruit dans le délai d’un an à compter de la date de la décision.
La présente communication vous est faite en application de l’article 52 a du règlement de la Cour.
Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes salutations distinguées.
Chef de Division’>>
<< (Dear Sir and Madam)
I refer to your complaint lodged on 8 June 2010 and registered under the number above.
I bring to your attention that the European Court of Human Rights, sitting between 24 January 2013 and 7 February 2013 a single judge (….name…. assisted by a (Court) reporter in accordance with Article 24.2 of the Convention), has decided to declare your application inadmissible. This decision was made on that date.
Given all the evidence in its possession, and in so far as it is competent to take cognizance of the allegations, the Court found that the conditions of admissibility laid down in Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention have not been met.
This decision is final. It is not subject to any appeal whatsoever to the Grand Chamber or another organisation. The Registry will not be able to provide further details on the decision of a single judge. As of then you will no longer receive letters from the Court regarding this request. Accordance with the instructions of the Court, your file will be destroyed within one year from the date of the decision.
This communication is made to you pursuant to section 52 of the Rules of Court.
Yours faithfully. >>
Relevant to the decision:
Article 24.2 –
‘Failure to exhaust domestic remedies.’
Article 34 –
‘……..unexplained delays in supplying materials for correspondence and documents needed for application to Court.’
Article 35 –
‘The (ECHR) Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted.’
Section 52 (now 52A, an amendment) –
‘Rule 52A1 – Procedure before a single judge
1. In accordance with Article 27 of the Convention, a single judge may declare inadmissible or strike out of the Court’s list of cases an application submitted under Article 34, where such a decision can be taken without further examination. The decision shall be final. The applicant shall be informed of the decision by letter.
2. In accordance with Article 26 § 3 of the Convention, a single judge may not examine any application against the Contracting Party in respect of which that judge has been elected.
3. If the single judge does not take a decision of the kind provided for in the first paragraph of the present Rule, that judge shall forward the application to a Committee or to a Chamber for further examination.’
So, what is the bottom line?
Well, contrary to the Court’s ruling that we did not meet the requirements of Article 34, we did submit all relevant documents to the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide to support our claim for French legal aid. Come to that, we also sent copies of the said documents to the ECHR at the same time! The Bureau d’Aide has recently denied receiving any of the documents; the ECHR makes no comment about the copy documents received at the Court in Strasbourg. Strange, that!
Without the legal aid, or cash to pay the two avocats, we could not get our Case heard in the Cour de Cassation!
Therefore, we could not exhaust all domestic remedies!
Of course, the fact that we were not informed by the Bureau d’Aide that our application for legal aid had been rejected, not until we were ‘out of time’, was a major contribution to the ECHR judgement. But, that is no surprise!
We are not able to return to the ECHR using the same grounds, that was the risk we took when we filed there before obtaining a Cour de Cassation Judgement. But, it is possible that we may be able to return, with fresh evidence of breached human rights, if we can obtain that elusive Cour de Cassation ruling.
Of course, the legal bods acting for France at the ECHR would have been well aware of the facts, the laws, the requirements, the loopholes, the risks. It’s possible that rejecting our legal aid application was the only way forward for France!
Sheesh! How dare we consider conspiracy!
However, before we drink our ‘half full cup’ dry, we’re going to investigate the possibility of raising the money to bypass the Bureau d’Aide and have our Case heard in the Cour de Cassation. We don’t know if we can do that, but we will now pull out all the stops to find out the facts! If we can proceed, my dear old nan will have provided us with the means, I inherited a lot of her jewellery when she passed away. She was a game old girl, my nan, she would not have given up, her favourite adage was – ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’!
Spot on, nan, Bless you, and Bless your crystal ball!
It appears that all members of our family, both sides, in the UK got together and wrote a letter to the ECHR about their concerns for, among other aspects, our health, safety and welfare. Sadly, the letter arrived too late, the ECHR Judgement had been made before the letter arrived.
2013 is not our year, methinks!