BONNEZ & ZIEBE LAWYERS – A Danish law firm specialised in criminal law, police law, the rights of prisoners and other people deprived of their liberty such as psychiatric patients and children in public care and their parents
Bonnez & Ziebe is a Danish law firm primarily specialised in criminal law and the legal remedies against police brutality and other kinds of abuse and misconduct at the hands of local or national authorities such as the prison service or staff at psychiatric hospitals.
First and foremost we defend people who are put on trial. We give high priority to preparatory measures prior to the trial as such measures may have a significant impact on the outcome of the case. For that reason we are happy to be consulted at the earliest possible stage of a criminal case. We also assist suspects during their questioning with the police, those who have been arrested or those who have otherwise been deprived of their freedom or subjected to unjustified searches of their person, premises, vehicles or other belongings. Prisoners rights very much lie at the heart of our work along with the rights of people detained in police cells and in other types of institutions such as psychiatric hospitals. We often take legal action to secure a prisoner an early release. Other cases come into existence because our clients ask for compensation or make a complaint about the conditions under which they are detained.
Furthermore we represent families who are about to have a child taken into public care by the authorities or families who have already become victims of such measures. The latter may want our assistance in a bid to have a care order reversed or to challenge the choice of foster homes, decisions to impose supervised contact etc.
We very rarely engage in cases where private individuals sue other private individuals.
We accept cases from across Denmark.
Most of our clients are people facing a criminal investigation or are otherwise at odds with the police or other authorities. The majority seeks legal representation because they are due to appear in court. Civil claims over long term segregation, restraint in prisons or mental hospitals along with challenges of decisions not to grant a prisoner early release (parole) make up a fair share of our cases; so do claims over brutality, abusive behaviour, harassment and other inappropriate conduct on the part of police officers, prison staff or other staff handling people deprived of their liberty. Last but not least we assist people sectioned (detained) in a mental hospital and families where children are about to be taken or are taken into public care by the local authorities.
Everyone may find themselves in a situation where the services of a lawyer come in handy. Our clients are people from all walks of life and of all nationalities. We have represented people from very deprived backgrounds and celebrities alike. For very obvious reasons we often meet our clients in prison or in other institutions where they are deprived of their liberty.
High-profile cases against the authorities have often found their way to our office
Over the past decade we have represented defendants in a vast number of criminal cases – big and small alike. Some of our cases garner little or no attention at all while others attract way more attention.
Our investigations have laid bare corrupt or inappropriate practices in various parts of the Danish public sector:
In the so-called “Tibet sag” (The Tibet Flag Case) initiated by our law firm on behalf of a group of wronged demonstrators we managed to uncover evidence suggesting that senior police officers in the Copenhagen metropolitan police had committed perjury and tried to conceal wrongdoing in connection with illegal police operations carried out against demonstrators in Copenhagen in 2012. The case went on for years and the authorities were eventually found to have acted in breach of article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the provisions against arbitrary detention).
In the so-called “COP 15-sag” (The COP 15 case) the authorities were found to have acted in breach of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (inhuman and degrading treatment of people). Our clients were all awarded monetary compensation.
A case dubbed “Tilst-sagen” (The Tilst case) by the press was also initiated by lawyers from our office; Two unarmed car thieves were shot dead by the police in a suburb of Aarhus. It was later uncovered that the police officers involved in the shooting had been given ample opportunity to coordinate their statements before their initial questioning. It also turned out that the officers were unable to account for the great number of bullets fired against their victims let alone who had fired the fatal shots.
A case initiated by lawyers from our office on behalf of the relatives of a prisoner who died from asphyxia while pinned to the floor of a segregation cell in a prone position by a crowd of six prison officers is still pending.
On countless occasions the Danish prison authorities and Danish psychiatric hospitals in cases pursued by our lawyers have been ordered to pay compensation to persons who have been victims of inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of staff.
In January 2018 the Danish Supreme Court held that one of our clients should be compensated after having been restrained to a bed for hours on end in a Danish mental hospital. Prior to the decision of the Supreme Court a considerable number of our clients had already received compensation for such measures in prisons and mental hospitals across Denmark.
In July 2019 the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of our client in a case where the Danish authorities had denied him early release from prison on grounds of his perceived dangerousness.
In September 2019 the Danish supreme court found that staff at a psychiatric ward at Viborg hospital had acted in breach of article three of the European Convention of Human Rights. Our client who was a psychiatric patient was awarded compensation for 41 strip searches which he had endured within the space of eighteen months in 2014 and 2015.
We employ a multitude of ways to address the problems presented to us by our clients. Litigation per se is no magic bullet and should some times be considered as a last resort. It may be preferable to opt for a reasonable out-of-court settlement. Some cases do indeed call for swift action and a tough approach. We happily take off the kid gloves where appropriate. If need be our lawyers do not hesitate to go the whole hog and take a case to an international tribunal or court such as the European Court of Human Rights.
Our law firm employs lawyers who have the right of audience before all Danish courts of law including the high courts and the supreme court as well as all international tribunals and courts. Most of our lawyers engage avidly in national and international organisational work and debates pertinent to human rights.
More details about our scope of work
We represent people in cases heard by administrative bodies, national tribunals, national courts, and international institutions.
We’re likely to take on your case if you:
Legal aid is available in a vast array of cases
The lion’s share of our clients are people with little or no money. Very often we manage to secure legal aid for our clients. On many occasions we can tell straight away if a case is eligible for legal aid. We do not charge our clients for handling an application for legal aid.
Civil legal aid
Access to civil legal aid depends on an assessment of the merits of your case and your income which means that the Danish civil legal aid scheme is bases on the same fundamental principles as legal aid systems in other parts of Europe.
Criminal legal aid
There is a criminal legal aid scheme of sorts in Denmark, albeit is is overtly inferior compared to its counterparts in most other European countries; The state does indeed pay the costs of legal representation to indigent defendants. To that extend the scheme does not differ from criminal legal aid schemes elsewhere. But if the defendants are not acquitted they are made to reimburse the full costs disregarding their financial circumstances.
This very daft rule applies equally to defendants who accept a lawyer picked by the court and defendants who chose their own lawyer. In other words: It does not cost you any more to avail yourself of a lawyer of your own choice than to accept a lawyer chosen by the authorities.