Airey v Ireland
Airey v. Ireland (application No. 6289/73) was a case decided by the European Court of Human Rights in 1979.
Mrs. Airey wished to obtain a decree of judicial separation from her husband (divorce was illegal in Ireland). She has been unable, in the absence of legal aid and not being in a financial position to meet herself the costs involved, to find a solicitor willing to act for her. Legal aid was not available in Ireland for any civil matters, including seeking a judicial separation.
The Court held that:
- there has been a breach of Article 6 para. 1 (fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights, by 5 votes to 2;
- there has been a breach of Article 8 (private and family life), by 4 votes to 3;
- it was not necessary also to examine the case under Article 14 (non-discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 6 para. 1, by 4 votes to 3;
- it was not necessary also to examine the case under Article 13 (effective remedy), by 4 votes to 3.
Judges Thór Vilhjálmsson, O'Donoghue and Evrigenis each filed a dissent.
In the case, it was established that the right of effective access to the courts may entail legal assistance. Airey case has been applied in a number of cases on civil legal aid.
- ECHR judgment in case Airey v. Ireland, para. 8-11
- Harris D. J., O'Boyle M., Warbrick C. Law of the European Convention on Human Rights. Second edition. p. 236 New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-406-90594-9