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Disclosure: Equality of arms

‘One of the elements of the broader concept of a fair trial is the principle of equality of arms, which requires each party to be given a reasonable opportunity to present his or her case under conditions that do not place him or her at a substantial disadvantage vis-à-vis his opponent (see, among many other authorities, Niderost-Huber v Switzerland [1997] ECHR 18990/91 at para 23, 18 February 1997). That right means, in principle, the opportunity for the parties to a trial to have knowledge of and comment on all evidence adduced or observations filed, with a view to influencing the court's decision (see Lobo Machado v Portugal [1996] ECHR 15764/89 at para 31, 20 February 1996). This position is not altered when the observations are neutral on the issue to be decided by the court (see Goc v Turkey [2002] ECHR 36590/97 at para 55) or, in the opinion of the court concerned, they do not present any fact or argument which has not already appeared in the impugned decision.’

SH v Finland (App no 28301/03) [2008] ECHR 28301/03.

Categories: 4th Edition, Chapter 10, Updates