October 8, 2019
In its Committee judgment in the case of L.P. and Carvalho v. Portugal (applications nos. 24845/13 and 49103/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights
The case concerned findings of liability against two lawyers for defamation (L.P.) and for attacking a person’s honour (Mr Carvalho) in respect of two judges, on account of documents drawn up by the lawyers in their capacity as representatives.
The Court found, in particular, that both applicants had been acting in the performance of their professional duties as lawyers. It further considered that the penalties had been apt to have a chilling effect on the profession of lawyer as a whole, especially with regard to lawyers’ defence of their clients’ interests. Consequently, the reasons given by the domestic courts to justify finding the applicants liable had been neither relevant nor sufficient and had not corresponded to a pressing social need. The interference had thus been disproportionate and had not been necessary in a democratic society.