AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                      Application No. 12645/87
                      by R.
                      against the Netherlands


        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 12 December 1988, the following members being present:

              MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                  J.A. FROWEIN
                  S. TRECHSEL
                  G. SPERDUTI
                  E. BUSUTTIL
                  G. JÖRUNDSSON
                  A. WEITZEL
                  J.-C. SOYER
                  H.G. SCHERMERS
                  H. DANELIUS
                  J. CAMPINOS
                  H. VANDENBERGHE
             Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
             Sir  Basil HALL
             MM.  F. MARTINEZ
                  C.L. ROZAKIS
             Mrs.  J. LIDDY

             Mr.  J. RAYMOND, Deputy 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 1 October 1986
by R. against the Netherlands and registered on 19 January 1987 under
file No. 12645/87;

        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 facts as submitted by the applicant may be summarised as
follows:

        The applicant is a Dutch national, born in 1924 and currently
resident in K., the Netherlands.  Before the Commission he is
represented by Mr.  J. Bijkerk, a lawyer practising in Utrecht, the
Netherlands.

        The applicant is a general practitioner with a small local
practice.  He also serves as the local dispensing chemist.  To
supplement his income he also treats patients from outside his
community.

        In respect of these outside patients, he had become the
subject of complaints by patients and other doctors.  These had
allegedly discovered that the applicant had prescribed non-existent
and/or non-registered medicines, which he himself prepared, and that
he had ordered un-orthodox treatments, all without consulting the
other doctors dealing with these patients.  On two previous occasions
the applicant had been fined for having committed similar acts.

        On 22 June 1979 a complaint against the applicant was lodged
with the Medical Disciplinary Board (Medisch Tucht College) of Zwolle.
The complaint was deposited by both the Regional Medical Inspector of
Public Health (Geneeskundig Inspecteur voor de Volksgezondheid) and
the Regional Public Health Inspector for Medicines (Inspecteur van de
Volksgezondheid voor de Geneesmiddelen).  It was alleged that the
applicant had committed acts which undermine public faith in the
medical profession and had exhibited serious incompetence in the
practice of medicine and the preparation of medicines.

        On 29 September 1984 the Medical Disciplinary Board of Zwolle
ruled that the applicant be suspended from practising medicine for one
year.

        The applicant appealed against this decision to the Court of
Appeal (Gerechtshof) of Arnhem.  On 26 June 1985 this Court overruled
the decision of the Medical Disciplinary Board and declared
inadmissible the complaint of the Public Health Authorities against
the applicant, because the complaint had not been dealt with within a
reasonable time as required by Article 6 of the Convention.

        Thereupon, the Public Health Authorities appealed to the
Supreme Court (Hoge Raad).  On 7 February 1986, the Supreme Court
quashed the decision of the Court of Appeal of Arnhem and referred the
case to the Court of Appeal of Leeuwarden.  The Supreme Court
considered that the right to practise medicine was a civil right and
that therefore Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention applied to the
proceedings in question.  However, the Supreme Court considered that,
although the determination of the applicant's right to continue to
practise medicine had not taken place "within a reasonable time", the
consequence of this delay was not to render the original complaint
inadmissible, but solely to inhibit the application of a disciplinary
measure.  The Supreme Court added that the interests of general public
health and those of the applicant's patients require that the Court of
Appeal investigate and form an opinion on the merits of the complaints
as presented by the Public Health Inspectors.

        Apparently, the Court of Appeal of Leeuwarden, which has been
instructed by the Supreme Court to give a decision on the merits of
the complaint against the applicant, has suspended its proceedings
pending the outcome of this application before the Commission.


COMPLAINTS

        The applicant complains that disciplinary proceedings against
him, begun in 1979, are still pending.  The determination of his case
has therefore not been made within a reasonable time.  He invokes
Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention.  The applicant argues that,
although the currently pending proceedings cannot culminate in a
disciplinary measure, they nevertheless have a negative, if not
damaging, effect on his right to practise medicine.


THE LAW

        The applicant has complained that the disciplinary proceedings
against him have not been terminated within a reasonable time.  He
invokes Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.  He alleges
that, although a disciplinary measure can no longer be applied to him,
his civil right to practise medicine remains affected by the
proceedings.

        Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention provides, inter
alia, as follows:

        "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."

        The Commission notes that the Dutch courts concluded that
Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention applied to the initial
disciplinary proceedings.  It further notes that the Supreme Court
found that the determination of the applicant's right to continue
practising medicine had not been made within a "reasonable time", as
required by Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.  The
Supreme Court, therefore, decided that no disciplinary measure could
be imposed on the applicant.  However, the Supreme Court considered
that, in the interest of public health, it was essential that a court
pronounce an opinion on the legality of the practices in which the
applicant had engaged.  Consequently, it ordered that the Court of
Appeal of Leeuwarden examine the merits of the complaints against the
applicant. The issue which arises is whether Article 6 para. 1 (Art.
6-1) of the Convention also applies to the continued proceedings
before the Court of Appeal.

        The Commission recalls that disciplinary proceedings against a
medical practitioner which may result in a suspension of the right to
practise medicine amount to a determination of a civil right within
the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention (see
Eur.Court H.R., König judgment of 23 April 1977, Series A no. 27,
para. 95 p. 32, and Albert and Le Compte judgment of 24 October 1983,
Series A no. 58, para. 28, p. 15).

        The applicant has alleged that the pending proceedings before
the Court of Appeal, which will culminate in a pronouncement on the
merits of the public health complaint concerning his professional
conduct, have and will have a direct and damaging effect on his
practice of medicine.

        However, the Commission observes that in the present case, the
proceedings before the Court of Appeal of Leeuwarden concern a
determination of the merits of public health complaints regarding the
applicant's professional conduct and, as such, will only result in a
declaratory judgment.  The Commission recalls the specific character
of the medical profession - a profession which is exercised in the
general interest - and the special duties incumbent on its members
(see for example the above-mentioned Albert and Le Compte judgment,
para. 28, p. 16).

        The Commission considers that the determination on the merits
of the public health complaints against the applicant concern the
public obligations of the applicant as a member of the medical
profession.  Although the declaratory judgment by the Court of Appeal
may have an effect on the applicant's medical practice and to his
professional reputation the proceedings are meant to specify the rules
applicable in the interest of public health and, therefore, do not
directly involve a determination of civil rights and obligations of
the applicant within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention.

        It follows that 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.

        For these reasons, the Commission,

        DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.


Deputy Secretary to the Commission        President of the Commission




           (J. RAYMOND)                        (C.A. NØRGAARD)