EGMR: Couple suspected of tax evasion – search of their home on the basis of information bought by the German secret services was lawful and proportionate

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of K.S. and M.S. v. Germany (application no. 33696/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for the home) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned a search of a couple’s home because they were suspected of tax evasion. The proceedings against them had been triggered when information about their assets held in a Liechtenstein bank had been illegally copied by an employee of the bank and sold to the German secret services. The applicants notably complained that their home had been searched on the basis of a warrant issued on the strength of evidence which had been obtained in breach of domestic and international law.

The Court found that the search had been carried out in accordance with the law. It noted in particular the settled case-law of the Federal Constitutional Court according to which there was no absolute rule that evidence which had been acquired in violation of procedural rules could not be used in criminal proceedings. That meant that the couple had been able to foresee – if necessary with the aid of legal advice – that the domestic authorities would consider basing the search warrant on the Liechtenstein data despite the fact that that information might have been acquired in breach of the law ...

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