Back

Man infected with HIV through blood transfusion faces years of legal delays

A and Others v. Denmark (1)  | 1996

Man infected with HIV through blood transfusion faces years of legal delays

Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time

Extract from Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Background

Mr C was an electronics technician. He received blood transfusions whilst undergoing treatment in a Danish hospital. The transfusions infected him with HIV.

Mr C lodged a claim for compensation. The speed and outcome of the proceedings were crucial to him, as he had an incurable disease and a reduced life expectancy. However, his case did not reach trial for over five years. By that time, Mr C had died of AIDS.

Before his death, Mr C complained to the European Court of Human Rights that an unreasonable delay in the legal proceedings had denied him justice.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court found that the proceedings had been unreasonably long, and that the authorities had failed to ensure that the case was dealt with speedily. This had breached Mr C’s right to have access to a court in a reasonable time.

The court also found that seven other applicants in similar circumstances were the victims of the same violation. 

Follow-up

The Danish civil courts’ practice was adapted in order to help ensure better compliance with the reasonable time requirement.

Mr C’s widow was paid 100,000 Danish Krone in compensation.