AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY

Application No. 12040/86
by G.M.
against the United Kingdom


        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
4 May 1987, the following members being present:


                    MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                        E. BUSUTTIL
                        G. JÖRUNDSSON
                        S. TRECHSEL
                        B. KIERNAN
                        A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                        A. WEITZEL
                        J.C. SOYER
                        H.G. SCHERMERS
                        H. DANELIUS
                        G. BATLINER
                        H. VANDENBERGHE
                   Mrs  G.H. THUNE
                   Sir  Basil HALL
                   Mr.  F. MARTINEZ

                   Mr.  H.C. KRÜGER, Secretary to the Commission


        Having regard to Article 25 of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

        Having regard to the application introduced on 20 February
1984 by G.M. against the United Kingdom and registered
on 4 March 1986 under file No. 12040/86;

        Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the
Rules of Procedure of the Commission;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

        The applicant is a British citizen, born in 1939 and resident
in W..

        The facts as submitted by the applicant may be summarised as
follows.

        The Inland Revenue obtained judgment against the applicant for
the sum of £246.81 on 12 December 1977 in respect of taxes owed on
past earnings.  The applicant had unsuccessfully appealed the tax
assessment in issue before the General Commissioners on 17 March and
24 November 1982.  The applicant had requested that the Inland Revenue
provide him with copies of the capital statements prepared by his tax
inspector which he alleged would assist him to challenge the tax
assessments in issue but none had been provided.  Following request
for further information by the Commission's Secretariat, the applicant
asked the Inland Revenue for explanation of this.  A letter from the
Inland Revenue in response to the applicant's further enquiry dated
30 December 1986 however states that such capital statements are only
prepared in a small number of cases and that none had been prepared in
his particular case.  On 23 December 1982 the applicant submitted an
application for a case to be stated to the High Court in respect of
his unsuccessful appeal.  He was informed that he had failed to comply
with the appropriate time-limits and that no case could be stated.  The
Inland Revenue proceeded to serve a bankruptcy notice on the applicant
on 15 March 1983 and after a hearing before the Registrar of the
Bankruptcy Court on 19 October 1983, a receiving order was made
against the applicant.

        On 20 October 1983 the applicant attended the Official
Receiver's office for oral examination.  On that occasion, he informed
the Official Receiver of County Court proceedings in which he was
involved against the company which had been repairing a road on which
the applicant had been driving.  The applicant's windscreen had been
broken by loose chippings, and he was claiming some £58.58 from the
private company, who had been carrying out road-repairs.  The Receiver
stopped and adjourned indefinitely the County Court proceedings,
apparently on the grounds that even if the applicant were to win, the
costs involved would be likely to make the action as a whole a
liability.

        A notice of first creditors meeting was sent out in February
1984, but it seems that it was sent to the wrong address and the
applicant could not therefore attend or be represented at that
meeting.  There was no quorum at the meeting and it was adjourned to
24 February 1984.  There was again no quorum and the meeting was
concluded.  On 16 March 1984, the applicant attended W.
County Court, when he was adjudicated bankrupt.

        A trustee in bankruptcy was appointed and, by letter of 2 July
1984, the applicant was told that, as regards the claim against the
road repairing contractors, the trustee had no objection to a
reassignment of the right of action to the applicant, who would then
have been entitled to pursue the claim, with the possibility of being
granted legal aid.  Any money received would have to be paid to the
trustee for the benefit of creditors generally.  The applicant does
not appear to have taken any further steps in regard to this aspect of
his claim.

        The applicant subsequently applied for legal aid in order to
appeal against his bankruptcy.  Counsel's opinion of 22 October 1986
however stated that there were no grounds on which the bankruptcy
could be challenged and the applicant's legal aid certificate was
discharged.

        The applicant alleges that following the commencement of the
bankruptcy proceedings he received three visits from an official from
the Receiver's Office enquiring as to the content of his 86 year old
mother's will.  The official requested the applicant to make enquiries
of his mother on this subject.  The applicant did so and his mother
was distressed that such enquiries should be made.


COMPLAINTS

        The applicant complains of violations of Article 6 para. 1 of
the Convention in that, first, he was unable to have a case stated in
connection with his appeal against an income tax assessment; secondly,
the Receiver's decision to adjourn the civil proceedings against the
road repairing contractor denied him the opportunity of a fair public
hearing of his case; and, thirdly, he did not receive any notice of
the first creditors' meeting because the notice was incorrectly
addressed, and he was therefore denied a fair and public hearing in
respect of the meeting.

        The applicant also alleges violations of Article 10 of the
Convention in connection with the refusal of the Inland Revenue to
provide him with capital statements prepared by his tax inspector
which he alleges would have enabled him to challenge the various
assessments in issue before the General Commissioners and secondly in
that, because he was unable to attend the first creditors' meeting
referred to above, he was denied the right to freedom of expression at
the meeting.

        Finally, the applicant alleges a violation of Article 8 of the
Convention because inquiries were made by the Official Receiver's
Office as to the contents of the applicant's mother's will, in
particular as regards the property which had been transferred by the
applicant and in a part of which the applicant was living and for
which he was paying rent.

THE LAW

1.      The applicant complains of violations of his rights under
Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention provides that:

        "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations
        or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled
        to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an
        independent and impartial tribunal established by law."

     i.  The applicant complains firstly that he was denied the
opportunity to have the dispute concerning income tax assessment dealt
with by case stated before the High Court.

        The Commission must first consider however whether the subject
matter of the proceedings of which the applicant complains concerns
the determination of civil rights or obligations within the meaning of
Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        In previous cases, the Commission has already found that Article 6
para. 1 (Art. 6-1) is not applicable to proceedings regarding taxation or
related fiscal matters (see e.g.  Applications Nos 2552/65, Dec. 15.12.67,
Collection 26 p. 1, and 8903/80, Dec. 8.7.80, D.R. 21 p. 246).  The Commission
recalls that the subject matter of the proceedings in question was the
applicant's dispute as to the amount which he has to pay to the Inland Revenue
in respect of his past earnings.  The Commission finds therefore that this is a
matter of a taxation which falls outside the scope of Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        It follows that this part of the application is incompatible
ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the
meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

    ii.  The applicant also complains that he has been denied access to
court by the action of the Official Receiver in stopping his claim for
damages in the County Court.

        The Commission first of all notes that the subject matter of
the claim was the damage caused to applicant's car by allegedly
negligent road-repairers and that this would appear to fall within the scope of
the concept of "civil rights" set out in Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention.

        The Commission recalls however that the applicant had become
bankrupt in the early stages of this action and that the Official
Receiver had apparently exercised his right to interfere in the action
on the ground that the damages claimed (£58,58) were likely to be
outweighed by the legal costs to such an extent as to make the action
a liability.

        The case-law of the Commission and of the European Court of
Human Rights has established that the right of access to the courts is
not absolute but may be subject to limitations (see e.g.  Eur.  Court
H.R., Golder judgment of 21 February 1975, Series A, No. 18 and Eur.
Court H.R., Ashingdane judgment of 28 May 1985, Series A, No. 93).

        In the majority of the contracting states, the right of access
to court is regulated in respect of minors, vexatious litigants,
persons of unsound mind and persons declared bankrupt.  Such
regulations are not in principle contrary to Article 6 (Art. 6) of the
Convention, where the aim pursued is legitimate and the means employed
to achieve the aim is proportionate.  The Commission recalls that the
Official Receiver was of the view that the action was likely to be a
liability and was therefore acting in pursuance of his duty to protect
the rights of the applicant's creditors.  The measure taken to stay
the proceedings could not be said to be disproportionate to this
legitimate aim of safeguarding the fair administration of the
applicant's estate.  The Commission in any event recalls that the
trustee in bankruptcy who succeeded the Official Receiver as
administrator of the applicant's estate has subsequently agreed to
re-assign the right of action to the applicant, who however appears to
have taken no further steps in the matter.  In these circumstances,
the Commission finds no appearance of a violation of Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        It follows that this part of the application is manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention.

   iii.  The applicant further complains that he did not receive any
notice of the first creditors' meeting because the notice was
incorrectly addressed, and that he was therefore denied a fair and
public hearing in respect of the meeting.

        From the information supplied by the applicant it would appear
however that the meeting, to which the applicant complains that he was
denied access, never took place because of a lack of a quorum.
Therefore, even assuming the creditors' meeting, as an integral part
of the bankruptcy proceedings, could be said to involve the
applicant's civil rights and obligations within the meaning of Article
6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention, the Commission finds that no final
determination of such rights was reached, since the meeting was
adjourned for lack of quorum and no resolution was passed.  In these
circumstances, the Commission finds that the applicant's rights were
not substantially affected and that there is no appearance of a
violation of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        It follows therefore that this part of the application is
manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2).

2.      The applicant also alleges violations of Article 10 (Art. 10) of the
Convention in that the Inland Revenue failed to provide him with
capital statements in respect of his assessments and in that he was
unable to attend the creditors' meeting referred to above and to
express his opinion in that meeting.

        Article 10 para. 1 (Art. 10-1) of the Convention provides that:

        "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.  This
        right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive
        and impart information and ideas without interference by
        public authority and regardless of frontiers..."

        Insofar as the applicant complains of being unable to exercise
his freedom of expression at the creditors' meeting due to lack of
notification, the Commission finds that Article 10 (Art. 10) does not
confer the right on every person to attend and take part in any
meeting which he may wish to.  The Commission therefore considers that
this complaint fails to disclose any appearance of a violation of
Article 10 (Art. 10) of the Convention.  It follows that this
complaint is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27
para. 2 (27-2) of the Convention.

        The applicant also complains that the Inland Revenue have
violated his right to receive information guaranteed under Article 10
(Art. 10) of the Convention by refusing to supply him with capital statements
prepared by his tax inspector which he alleged would have enabled him
to challenge the tax assessments before the Inland Revenue
Commissioners.

        In this regard the Commission recalls that the Court has recently given
consideration to the scope of Article 10 (Art. 10) with regard to the freedom
to receive information.  In Leander (Eur. Court H.R., Leander judgment of 26
March 1987, Series A no. 116, para. 74), the Court said:

        "... that the right to freedom to receive information
        basically prohibits a Government from restricting a person
        from receiving information that others wish or may be willing
        to impart to him.  Article 10 (Art. 10) does not, in
        circumstances such as those of the present case, confer
        on the individual a right of access to a register containing
        information on his personal position, nor does it embody an obligation
        on the Government to impart such information to the individual."

        In any event the Commission recalls that in the present case
it appears that the capital statements to which the applicant refers,
are only prepared in a small number of cases and that none appear to
have been prepared in connection with the applicant's case.

        In these circumstances, the Commission finds that the
applicant has failed to substantiate this complaint and that
accordingly there is no appearance of an interference with the applicant's
rights under Article 10 (Art. 10) of the Convention in this regard.

        It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded
within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

3.      The applicant also complains of a violation of Article 8 (Art. 8) of
the Convention as a result of the enquiries of the Official Receiver's
office into the contents of his mother's will.

        Article 8 para. 1 (Art. 8-1) of the Convention provides that:

        "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and
        family life, his home and his correspondence."

        However, the applicant has not shown that he was under any
obligation to answer the questions put to him concerning his mother's
will or that he was under any compulsion to put the same questions
himself to his mother.  It also does not appear that if the applicant
had objected to these enquiries he would have been liable to any
penalty for failing to respond to them.  In these circumstances, the
Commission finds that the facts as submitted by the applicant fail to
disclose any interference with the applicant's rights under Article 8
(Art. 8) of the Convention.

        It follows that this part of the application is manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3) of the
Convention.

        For these reasons, the Commission

        DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.


        Secretary to the Commission         President of the Commission



               (H.C. KRÜGER)                      (C.A. NØRGAARD)