(Application no. 36500/05)
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Region: Africa
Year: 2009
Court: European Court of Human Rights

The Applicant brought, two hundred law suits before the Municipal Courts of Serbia against. In June 1996 the Applicant threatened his employer’s general manager with a hunting knife and a fake hand grenade.

On 30 August 1996, an initial team of experts confirmed that he was suffering from paranoid psychosis, and could not be held criminally liable for his actions. On 6 November 1996 the second team of experts found that he had borderline personality disorder but recommended in-house psychiatric treatment.

The Applicant regularly attended treatment. On 16 November 1998 he was discharged from this obligation.

The Courts appointed two guardians on separate occasions of his many suits, both criminal and civil.

On one occasion, the Courts directed that the Applicant undergoes psychiatric examination. The Applicant however demanded that before the Forensic Medical Board examined him, he be informed in advance of the identity of the experts who would examine him; be given an opportunity to accept or reject the experts selected; his examination be carried out in a courtroom in the presence of the judge as well as the public; and that the entire examination be recorded audio-visually.

The Applicant was then ordered to take a compulsory examination on 28 June 2004, and held in a psychiatric institution for up to 3 months.

The Applicant subsequently complained to the President of the Municipal Court, the President of the Supreme Court and the SCC, that the proceedings were in violation of the law, excessively long and negatively impacted on him and his family.

On 24 December 2004 a Psychiatric Institute concluded that the applicant suffered from litigious paranoia (paranoia querulans), and recommended restriction of his legal capacity.

Hearing was then held thereafter. The applicant was not present as he had been remanded in a separate criminal trial; his guardian/representative was not allowed inside the courtroom even though he was present. The Applicant was instead represented by a lawyer who had been appointed to represent him. He had never met the lawyer nor was he aware of her appointment. The Municipal Court ruled on the same day that the Applicant be partially deprived of his legal capacity, including his capacity for taking part in legal actions, deciding about his own medical treatment, and dealing with large amounts of money.

The Court also insisted that there had been no need to hear the Applicant in person at the time.

was no need to hear the applicant in person.

On 24 March 2005 the Applicant appealed on the grounds that the proceedings had been instituted unlawfully, the SCC had appointed a person to represent him without his knowledge; the person whom he had authorized to represent him was not allowed to do so; and that he had personally been excluded from the hearing when his legal capacity was being considered.

His appeal failed.


The Court considered; whether there was a violation of Article 1 of the Convention in terms of fairness of the process used to deprive the Applicant of his legal capacity and further, the right to self-representation and access to Court; whether the trial Courts unduly interfered with the Applicant’s private life by restricting his legal capacity.

The Court held that there was a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and that there was no fair hearing.

Further, it was held that there had been no comprehensive psychiatric examination of the Applicant the limitations applied must not restrict and reduce the access left to the individual such that that the very essence of that right. The Court was also of the opinion that in as much as states ought to protect themselves from vexatious litigants, domestic authorities had to establish mechanisms of dealing with such litigants without resorting to solutions that affect the legal capacity of individuals, and permanently so.