The civil liability of an acquitted driver for driving under the influence of alcohol did not violate his presumption of innocence
Ilias Papageorgiou v. Greece 10.12.2020 (app. no. 44101/13)
Presumption of innocence and civil trials. Civil decisions against the applicant despite the fact that he was acquitted in criminal proceedings for the same facts. The applicant was involved in a car accident and his passenger was injured. He took two breathalyzer tests, with scores of 0.67 and 0.57 mg / l, but was later acquitted by the criminal court for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Lawsuit of the passenger against the applicant and his insurance company. The insurance company brought an action against the applicant. The civil court of first instance ordered the applicant and the insurance company to pay compensation to the passenger, but rejected the insurance company’s claim against the applicant. On appeal, the Athens Court of Appeal ruled that it was not bound by the applicant’s acquittal in the criminal courts and that, under the terms of the insurance contract, the applicant’s conduct relieved the insurance company of its liability. The Supreme Court held that Article 6 § 2 of the ECHR did not require the civil courts to be bound by the judgment of the criminal courts and therefore the Court of Appeal had not questioned the presumption of innocence of the applicant.