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Pellegrini v. Italy, No. 30882/96, ECtHR (Second Section), 20 July 2001

Type Judgment
Case number 30882/96


Enforcement of the ecclesiastical judgment declaring the nullity of a marriage. Respect of the right to defence and of the adversarial principle. Violation of article 6 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 6 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1. A review by the State’s authority kind is required where a decision in respect of which enforcement is requested emanates from the courts of a Country which does not apply the Convention. Such a review is especially necessary where the implications of a declaration of enforceability are of capital importance for the parties.

2. The right to adversarial proceedings, which is one of the elements of a fair hearing within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, means that each party to a trial, be it criminal or civil, must in principle have the opportunity to have knowledge of and comment on all evidence adduced or observations filed with a view to influencing the court’s decision.
(In the present case, the Court considers that the Italian judicial authority, in granting the “exequatur” to an ecclesiastical ruling of matrimonial nullity, did not satisfactorily verify that the canons of a fair trial had been respected in the religious judgment. In particular, it is noted that the applicant had not been able to examine the evidence adduced by her husband (who had asked for the assessment of the invalidity of the nuptial bond) and that she had not been informed of the possibility of being assisted by a lawyer)