Key facts of the case:
Mr X, a Venezuelan national, arrived at Roissy airport on 22 October 2017, without being authorised to enter France. He was notified, on the one hand, of a refusal to enter France, and on the other hand, of a decision to keep him in a waiting zone, taken on the basis of Articles L. 221-3 and R. 221-1 of the Code on the Entry and Stay of Foreigners and the Right to Asylum (CESEDA). The judge for freedoms and detention, ruling in a courtroom in the holding area, ordered Mr X. to be held in a waiting area for eight days. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed this order on 30 October 2017. Before the Court of Cassation, Mr X challenged the independence and impartiality of the court whose courtroom has been relocated from the courthouse and is situated in an airport where the waiting area is also located.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
Has justice been done independently and impartially in accordance with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union if the judge ruled in a courtroom which had been relocated from the courts and placed in the waiting zone?
Outcome of the case:
The Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal as it held that the judiciary operated independently and impartially in accordance with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and that there was no need to refer a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union.
In particular, the Court underlined that the location of the courtroom in the airport area was provided for by the law and validated by the decision of the Constitutional Council, No. 2003-484 DC of 20 November 2003, under the conditions that the setting guarantees clarity, security, sincerity and public access of the hearings and that, under these conditions, the setting up of this room near the waiting area of Roissy airport meets the legal requirements of Article L. 222-4 of the CESEDA.
The Court considered that the rights of the defence can be exercised effectively, since the lawyers and the parties have access to the file to prepare the defence of persons in waiting zones as soon as the room opens, have premises guaranteeing the confidentiality of interviews, as well as an equipped work room reserved for them.
The Court, having assessed the conditions for the conducitng of justice with regard to the nature of this case, for which the law provides short time-scales, considered that nothing established that these conditions were better at the courts, and found that there was a fair balance between the objectives pursued by the State and the means used by the State to achieve them. The Court found that the judge, who had held the hearing in the room near the waiting area, had ruled publicly and in accordance with the legal and conventional requirements.
And whereas, in the absence of a reasonable doubt as to the interpretation of the provisions relating to the conducting of independent and impartial justice provided for in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, there is no need to refer to Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.
Et attendu qu'en l'absence de doute raisonnable sur l'interprétation des dispositions relatives à l'exercice d'une justice indépendante et impartiale prévues à l'article 47 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'Union européenne, il n'y a pas lieu de saisir la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne d'une question préjudicielle.