THE FACTS

Whereas the facts presented by the Applicant may be summarised as
follows:

The Applicant is a German citizen, born in 1924, and living in
Unna/Germany.

On ... February, 1960, he fell and broke a leg in a snow-covered
street.  As a result, he was treated in a hospital for approximately
4 months.  By letter of ... March, 1960, the Applicant presented a
claim for damages to the Town of Unna, submitting that the accident
occurred on the sidewalk in front of a municipal school which he
intended to hold liable, as well as the school housekeeper responsible.
The competent insurance company to which the municipal authorities
transmitted his letter, rejected the claim by reason of absence of
negligence on the part of the municipality and its employee.
Subsequent letters of the Applicant reiterating the claim were without
success.
On ... February, 1963, the Applicant addressed to the Regional Court
(Landgericht) of Dortmund a petition for legal aid to sue the Town
of Unna and, on a subsidiary basis, its employee.  He did not include
the appropriate proof of his lack of means but filed at the same time
a claim against both defendants, drawn up and signed by him personally.

He also stated that he was ill and wanted to submit additional legal
arguments after his recovery.

The defendants submitted that the 3 years' period of limitation under
German law for actions in tort had expired.  The Court held, on ...
March, 1963, that, for this reason, the proposed action did not have
a sufficient chance of success and therefore denied legal aid.  In
its decision the Court found, on the one hand, that the Applicant
had not been prevented from petitioning for legal aid at a time when
it was still possible to obtain a decision before the time-limit
expired.
It found, on the other hand, that the statement of claim (Klageschrift)
filed at the same time as the petition did not constitute a proper
cause of action lodged in due time as it was not signed by a lawyer
as required in actions before a Regional Court.

On ... April, 1963, the Applicant brought a new petition for legal
aid together with a formal statement of claim signed by a lawyer and
with proof of lack of means.  This petition, however, was rejected,
both by the Regional Court of ... June, 1963 and, on appeal
(Beschwerde), by the Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) of Hamm on ...
August, 1963 on the ground that the action, although now lodged in
proper form was, in any event, too late as the time-limit had already
expired.

The Applicant then appealed against the first decision of the Regional
Court of ... March, 1963 but, again, the Court of Appeal upheld the
decision on ... November, 1963, and this was notified to the Applicant
on ... December, 1963.

Against the latter decision the Applicant lodged a constitutional
appeal (Verfassungsbeschwerde) on the ground of a violation of Articles
3, 20 paragraph 1, and 103 paragraph 1 of the German Basic Law.  The
constitutional appeal was dated 11th January, 1964 (Saturday) and,
according to the Applicant, posted on that same day but it arrived
at the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on
14th January, 1964, which was one day too late.  The Applicant
therefore asked that the time-limit for filing a constitutional appeal
should be extended by reason of this unforeseeable delay.  Without
going into this question the Federal Constitutional Court, by a
unanimous decision of a Group of Three under Article 93 bis, paragraph
3, of the Law on the Federal Constitutional Court
(Bundesverfassungsgerichtsgesetz), on ... February, 1964, rejected the
appeal without stating further reasons as manifestly ill-founded.

The Applicant alleges violations of Article 6, paragraph 1 first
sentence, of the Convention and Article 1, paragraph 1, of the First
Protocol to the Convention.  Under Article 50 of the Convention he
asks for compensation to be paid by the Federal Republic of Germany
in the amount of his original claim against the Town of Unna including
interest and expenses during the various proceedings.

He argues that he has not been granted a fair hearing by the Regional
Court, because his petition for legal aid and the statement of claim
joined to it and signed by him personally were not considered to have
the same effect as a claim filed immediately by an attorney.  He is
of the opinion that a poor person, as well as a person who is able
to pay his lawyer's fees, must enjoy the full period of limitation
and should not be forced to petition for legal aid before the
expiration of the time-limit in order to obtain from the Court a
decision on the question of legal aid.

The Applicant further submits that the Regional Court has denied
him a fair hearing by failing to wait for the additional legal
arguments he had mentioned in his statement of claim.

For these reasons the original decision of the Regional Court and
the later decisions upholding it constitute, in the opinion of the
Applicant, a deprivation of his possessions, viz. of his claim against
the Town of Unna and its employee, violating the general principles
of international law.  In support of his opinion, the Applicant quotes
from Böckstiegel's treatise on Article 1 of the Protocol to the
Convention (Die allgemeinen Grundsätze des Völkerrechts über
Eigentumsentziehung, eine Untersuchung zu Artikel 1 des
Zusatzprotokolls zur Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention, Berlin
1963).

THE LAW

Whereas the Applicant complains of the refusal of free legal aid
in respect of certain civil proceedings; whereas he further complains
that the time taken by the court proceedings in the determination
of an application for free legal aid makes it necessary for an
applicant to institute such proceedings at a date which will allow him
subsequently enough time to institute civil proceedings before the
expiration of the time-limit therefor; whereas he states that, in fact,
he only applied for legal aid very shortly before the expiration of
such time-limit and that the Court's decision in this respect was given
after, and on the ground of, the expiration of that time-limit which
had made the institution of civil proceedings impossible; whereas he
submits that an application for legal aid should be equivalent to an
institution of civil proceedings and that, when such application is
made before the expiration of the time-limit for the institution of
civil proceedings, the Applicant should be considered to have complied
with that time-limit;

Whereas otherwise he is prejudiced in his application for legal aid;

Whereas Article 6, paragraph (3) (c) (Art. 6-3-c), of the Convention
provides for the granting of free legal aid in criminal cases
exclusively and where the interests of justice so require; whereas the
Commission has frequently stated (see inter alia decision on
Application No. 727/60,Yearbook Volume III, page 308) that the right
to free legal aid in civil cases is not as such guaranteed by the
Convention;

Whereas the Applicant has, however, expressly invoked Article 6,
paragraph (1) (Art. 6-1), of the Convention; whereas it may be that,
in certain circumstances, the refusal of free legal aid could amount
to a denial of a "fair hearing" in the determination of civil rights
within the meaning of this provision;  whereas, however, in the present
case, the Applicant's request for free legal aid was rejected on the
ground that his civil claim had no longer any hope of success as he had
failed to comply with the conditions established by law, in particular,
to institute such civil proceedings before the relevant time-limit had
expired; whereas the imposition of such conditions for the granting
of free legal aid cannot be considered to be a denial of a "fair
hearing";

Whereas therefore, in this respect, the Application is manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2),of the Convention;

Whereas the Applicant further complains that the Regional Court,
when rejecting his request for free legal aid filed on ... February,
1963, failed to await the arrival of his additional legal arguments
and that the Court thereby denied him a "fair hearing";  whereas,
in this respect, it is to be observed that the Court, on ... February,
1963, invited the Applicant to make any further submissions within
ten days and whereas the Court announced its decision on ... March,
1963;

Whereas the Commission is thus satisfied that the Applicant had full
opportunity to present his case before the Court;  whereas, therefore,
in this respect, the Application is also manifestly ill-founded within
the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2),of the Convention;

Whereas, finally, the Applicant alleges that the dismissal of his
claim for damages was an act depriving him of his possessions in
violation of the general principles of international law as guaranteed
in Article 1 of the Protocol to the Convention (P1-1); whereas the
first paragraph of this Article (P1-1-1) provides that "every natural
or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his
possessions" and that "no one shall be deprived of his possessions
except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided
for by law and by the general principles of international law"; whereas
it does not appear that the Regional Court, in deciding that the
Applicant's claim was barred by the statute of limitation, either
interfered with the Applicant's right to the peaceful enjoyment of his
possessions or deprived him of them;

Whereas, in any event, the general principles of international law
invoked by the Applicant do not apply to the protection of the property
of nationals of the State against which the claim is made (see decision
No. 511/59, X. v. Iceland, Yearbook III, page 424);

Whereas it follows that, in this respect, the Application is also
manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

Now therefore the Commission declares this Application inadmissible.