The Council of State rules on the unconstitutionality of the administrative measure of personal detention for public debts

After 173 years of consistent application, the Council of State in plenum (Greece’s supreme administrative court) adjudicated that the administrative measure of detention for public debts is unconstitutional. The Council of State ruled that this measure violates the constitutional provisions for the protection of human value, which the State must respect.

Following this important judgement (250/08), the onerous measure of personal detention will no longer be used as a means of pressure for the payment of debts to the State or other public bodies. The Council of State concluded that the detention is only justified for non compliance with pecuniary obligations of a criminal nature. It should be noted that the Hellenic Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law (Areios Pagos) has concluded that detention is allowed for private debts (e.g. commercial debts), when debtor denies to pay off, despite the fact that he has the financial means.