Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires criminal trials to be fair and speedy. What is the time threshold for a trial to transpire is for it to be deemed "speedy" or insufficiently so as to be violative?

  • Is there any particular reason you've added the england-and-wales tag? The question doesn't seem to reference it.
    – DPenner1
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 23:11
  • There may be other interpretations or provisions and I am specifically interested in that region. Wikipedia references for example precedents at the assize of Clarendon. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 0:23
  • 1
    @DPenner1 Most of the ECHR is imported into English law under the Human Rights Act 1998, so it is possible to find answers in both English and ECtHR case law.
    – JBentley
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 10:21
  • 1
    @JBentley I'm aware, was simply confirming the intent of including the tag.
    – DPenner1
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


Article 6 ECHR does not require a speedy trial

Ir requires "a ... hearing within a reasonable time ..."

Form the EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS Guide on Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

  1. The reasonableness of the length of proceedings is to be determined in the light of the circumstances of the case, which call for an overall assessment (Boddaert v. Belgium, 1992, § 36). Where certain stages of the proceedings are in themselves conducted at an acceptable speed, the total length of the proceedings may nevertheless exceed a “reasonable time” (Dobbertin v. France, 1993, § 44).

  2. Article 6 requires judicial proceedings to be expeditious, but it also lays down the more general principle of the proper administration of justice. A fair balance has to be struck between the various aspects of this fundamental requirement (Boddaert v. Belgium,1922, § 39).

The court gives criteria which you can read for yourself but I will reproduce their examples from actual cases:

a. Reasonable time exceeded

  • 9 years and 7 months, without any particular complexity other than the number of people involved (35), despite the measures taken by the authorities to deal with the court’s exceptional workload following a period of rioting (Milasi v. Italy, 1987, §§ 14-20).

  • 13 years and 4 months, political troubles in the region and excessive workload for the courts, efforts by the State to improve the courts’ working conditions not having begun until years later (Baggetta v. Italy, 1987, §§ 20-25).

  • 5 years, 5 months and 18 days, including 33 months between delivery of the judgment and production of the full written version by the judge responsible, without any adequate disciplinary measures being taken (B. v. Austria, 1990, §§ 48-55).

  • 5 years and 11 months, complexity of case on account of the number of people to be questioned and the technical nature of the documents for examination in a case of aggravated misappropriation, although this could not justify an investigation that had taken five years and two months; also, a number of periods of inactivity attributable to the authorities. Thus, while the length of the trial phase appeared reasonable, the investigation could not be said to have been conducted diligently (Rouille v. France, 2004, § 29).

  • 12 years, 7 months and 10 days, without any particular complexity or any tactics by the applicant to delay the proceedings, but including a period of two years and more than nine months between the lodging of the application with the administrative court and the receipt of the tax authorities’ initial pleadings (Clinique Mozart SARL v. France, 2004, §§ 34-36).

b. Reasonable time not exceeded

  • 5 years and 2 months, complexity of connected cases of fraud and fraudulent bankruptcy, with innumerable requests and appeals by the applicant not merely for his release, but also challenging most of the judges concerned and seeking the transfer of the proceedings to different jurisdictions (Ringeisen v. Austria, 1971, § 110)

  • 7 years and 4 months: the fact that more than seven years had already elapsed since the laying of charges without their having been determined in a judgment convicting or acquitting the accused certainly indicated an exceptionally long period which in most cases should be regarded as in excess of what was reasonable; moreover, for 15 months the judge had not questioned any of the numerous co-accused or any witnesses or carried out any other duties; however, the case had been especially complex (number of charges and persons involved, international dimension entailing particular difficulties in enforcing requests for judicial assistance abroad etc.) (Neumeister v. Austria, 1968, § 21).

  • Little less than four years and ten months at two levels of jurisdiction concerning the constitutional redress proceedings involving complex and novel issues of law with an international element (Shorazova v. Malta, 2022, §§ 136-139).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .