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THE FACTS

The applicants, Brigitte Burg, Régine Baumann, Véronique Gafanesch, Evelyne Pirro, Jean-Michel Plas and Dalila Bouherrou, are French nationals who were born in 1963, 1959, 1956, 1955, 1949 and 1961 respectively and live in Mulhouse, Flaxlanden, Rixheim, Ruelisheim and Illzach. They were represented before the Court by Mr F. Gaston, a lawyer practising in Poitiers.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.

On 21 September 1995 the applicants applied to an employment tribunal in a dispute between themselves and their employer, contesting the grade in which they had been placed under an additional clause modifying a workplace agreement.

On 29 April 1997 the employment tribunal gave judgment in their favour.

On 24 June 1997 their employer appealed. On 16 December 1999 the Colmar Court of Appeal varied the first-instance judgment.

On 26 March 2002 the Employment Division of the Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal on a point of law lodged by the applicants, ruling that their ground of appeal was “not such as to warrant admitting the appeal”, thus applying Article L. 131-6 of the Code of Judicial Organisation, as amended by Law no. 2001-539 of 25 June 2001, which had introduced a special procedure for the consideration of appeals on points of law.

B.  Relevant domestic law

The relevant part of Article L. 131-6 of the Code of Judicial Organisation, as amended by Law no. 2001-539 of 25 June 2001, provides:

“After pleadings have been filed cases before a civil division shall be tried by a bench of three judges of the division to which they have been assigned.

The bench shall refuse to admit appeals which are inadmissible or not founded on a serious ground of cassation.”

COMPLAINT

The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings had not been fair, in that the Court of Cassation had declared their appeal inadmissible without examining it.

THE LAW

The applicants complained that the Court of Cassation had rejected their ground of appeal out of hand, merely stating that it was not such as to warrant admitting the appeal.

The Court reiterates that although Article 6 § 1 obliges courts to give reasons for their decisions, it cannot be understood as requiring a detailed answer to every argument (see Van de Hurk v. the Netherlands, judgment of 19 April 1994, Series A no. 288, p. 20, § 61; Immeubles Groupe Kosser v. France (dec.), no. 38748/97, 9 March 1999; and Latournerie v. France (dec.), no. 50321/99, 10 December 2002). Nor is the Court called upon to examine whether arguments are adequately met. Courts must reply to parties’ essential arguments, but the extent to which that duty applies may vary in accordance with the nature of the decision and must therefore be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case (see, among other authorities, Hiro Balani v. Spain, judgment of 9 December 1994, Series A no. 303-B, p. 29, § 27).

Lastly, the Court refers to its case-law to the effect that Article 6 does not require detailed reasons to be given for a decision in which an appellate court, applying a specific legal provision, dismisses an appeal as having no prospects of success (see Immeubles Groupe Kosser and Latournerie, both cited above; see also, mutatis mutandis, Kok v. the Netherlands (dec.), no. 43149/98, ECHR 2000-VI). That case-law was applied, in the first two decisions mentioned above, to the procedure in the French administrative courts. There is no reason why it should not be transposed to the ordinary courts where these follow a procedure of the same type.

In the present case the Court notes that the Court of Cassation’s decision was based on the absence of grounds such as to warrant admitting the appeal for the purposes of Article L. 131-6 of the Code of Judicial Organisation, as amended by Law no. 2001-539 of 25 June 2001. That being so, it can discern no appearance of a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

It follows that the applicants’ complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must therefore be dismissed pursuant to Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

BURG AND OTHERS v. FRANCE DECISION


BURG AND OTHERS v. FRANCE DECISION