Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000] (39293/98) ECHR;

Human rights, Producer, Offensive remarks, Media Law


Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000] concerned a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR on account of disproportionate sanction applied against the applicant by his employer.


The case summary contains 332 words.


Media Law – Human rights – Producer – Offensive remarks – Dismissal – Article 10 – ECHR – Freedom of expression – European Court of Human Rights – Violation


In Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000], the applicant was a producer for Spain’s State-run TV station. He was dismissed after making offensive remarks about the management of the TV station during a live broadcast. He brought a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that his dismissal had violated his right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 of the ECHR.


Whether there has been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention?


The Respondent Government argued that there had been no interference with the applicant’s rights to freedom of expression and the State could not be held responsible for the applicant’s dismissal. The Court explained that Article 10 of the ECHR also applied to the private relations between employer and employee. The Respondent State had a positive obligation in certain cases to protect the right to freedom of expression.

Further, the Court agreed that the applicant indeed used rude and offensive remarks. Although, the applicant confirmed that he used these remarks as part of a rapid and spontaneous exchange of comments between himself and the radio hosts. Also, these statements were made in the context of a labour dispute.

In these circumstances, the Court concluded that imposition of the maximum penalty (termination of employment) was extremely severe. The TV Station could have applied more appropriate disciplinary sanctions against the applicant for his offensive remarks.

Having regard to the above considerations, the Court concluded that the applicant’s dismissal was not a proportionate measure. Thus, the Court found a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR.


See the full text of the judgment here.

References: [2000] 2 WLUK 1024; (2001) 31 E.H.R.R. 50; [2001] C.L.Y. 3466.

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