Table of Contents: I. Preliminary remarks. – II. Avotiņš v. Latvia: the facts of the case and the findings of the European Court of Human Rights. – III.1. Automatic recognition of civil judgments and rights of defence: the case-law of the CJEU. – III.2. The perspective of the European Court: How to strike a fair balance between mutual trust and rights of defence? – IV. The consequences for the EU system of mutual recognition of decisions in civil and commercial matters.
Abstract: The intersections between recognition and enforcement of foreign decisions in civil and commercial matters and protection of fundamental rights have been a subject of growing interest in the recent case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The judgment of the Grand Chamber in Avotiņš v. Latvia is especially relevant, insofar as it concerns the system of mutual recognition of decisions established under EU law and its compatibility with Art. 6 of the European Convention. Even though the CJEU has recognised that mutual recognition of judgments between EU Member States cannot hamper the right to a fair trial, the judgment in Avotiņš v. Latvia calls for a greater attention to the observance of the rights of defence. The European Court points out the necessity of a control of the foreign judgment by the courts of the requested State in order to prevent violations of fundamental rights protected by the European Convention. The principles laid down in the judgment are thus likely to set some limits to the existing freedom of circulation of judgments enacted by EU acts adopted on the basis of Art. 81 TFEU.
Keywords: European Convention on Human Rights – recognition of judgments – right to a fair trial – European judicial area – rights of defence – equivalent protection.
* Associate Professor of International Law, University of Cagliari, firstname.lastname@example.org.