Fröbrich v. Germany (application no. 23621/11), 16.03.2017

No violation of Article 6 § 1

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The applicant, Karl Hubert Fröbrich, is a German national who was born in 1934 and lives in Strausberg (Germany).

The case concerned his right to a fair hearing in judicial review proceedings. Mr Fröbrich obtained compensation and a special pension from the German authorities, on the basis that he had served a prison term in the former German Democratic Republic in 1958/59. However, the German courts withdrew the decision to award these and ordered Mr Fröbrich to reimburse sums already paid, on the basis that he had also worked as a secret informant for the GDR security services. Mr Fröbrich applied for a judicial review of this decision, but the application was rejected – the court finding that the compensation was only intended for innocent victims of the former regime. The court had decided the judicial review without an oral hearing, considering it to be unnecessary.

Mr Fröbrich’s appeal to the Brandenburg Court of Appeal was rejected, and the Federal Constitutional Court declined to consider his complaint.

Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Fröbrich maintained that an oral hearing had been crucial to his case, and that the refusal to hold one had violated his right to a fair hearing.