THE FACTS Whereas the facts presented by the Applicant may be summarised as follows: The Applicant is a Belgian national born in 1907 and at present resident in ... In 1938 the Applicant who was a member of the Brussels Bar applied for leave of absence in order to undertake a non-professional activity abroad. He was convicted by the Military Tribunal in Brussels on .. July, 1946, for having written during the occupation, articles on foreign affairs for "Le Soir" which, in the opinion of Military Tribunal, although moderate showed an unquestionably collaborationist trend, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. As a result of his conviction the Applicant was also subject to certain perpetual disabilities imposed by Article 123 series of the Penal Code. The Applicant did not appeal against this judgment but obtained the revocation of these disabilities by a decision of the court of first instance in Ghent of .. December, 1956, and his rehabilitation by a decision of the Chamber of Indictments (Chambre des mises en accusation) of the Court of Appeal in Ghent on .. September, 1960. He then applied to be re-inscribed as a member of the Brussels Bar, but this was refused by the Brussels Bar Council on .. May, 1961, on the ground that his action during the war and subsequent conviction were of such a nature as to bring discredit on the profession. The Applicant did not appeal against this decision but instead applied to be inscribed as a member of the Ghent Bar. This request was refused by the Ghent Bar Council on .. January, 1963. The Applicant's appeal against this decision was rejected by a default judgment of .. March, 1963, against which the Applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal (Hof van beroep) in Ghent which rejected his appeal on .. May, 1963, principally on the grounds that the decision of the Ghent Bar Council was not a disciplinary but an administrative decision which had been properly taken although no reasons were given and although the Applicant and his lawyer were not present. Furthermore the decision was not subject to appeal. This judgment of the Court of Appeal was upheld by the Court of Cassation on .. March, 1965, which rejected the twenty-three grounds of appeal advanced by the Applicant including those alleging violations of the preamble to and Articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13 of the Convention. With regard to his complaint that a member of the disciplinary committee of the Ghent Bar had taken part in the proceedings of the Court of Appeal as a member of the court, the Court of Cassation stated that there was nothing to show that he had taken part in the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of which the Applicant was complaining. Arguments based on Article 6 The Applicant argues that the right to be admitted to practice as a lawyer, which is dependent on proof of professional aptitude and moral character, is a civil right. He cites French and American jurisprudence on this point and quotes in particular, "The right to practise law is ... shared by all equally and to be equal must be upon the same conditions. It cannot be treated as a matter of grace and favour". The Applicant seeks to distinguish his case from that decided by the Commission in Application No. 1931/63 which he states, "was formally different in that professional rights were claimed, whereas, in this case, the right claimed is access to the court on the bases of the civil rights prerequisite; and substantially different in that common law offenses as well as professional misbehaviour were involved which are absent from the case at bar". Arguments based on Article 14 in conjunction with Article 6 and 9 "Article 6 The determination of the right to practise as a member of the bar is founded in civil rights and the general practice of all nations. The Applicant has been discriminated against in the exercise of these civil rights for political reasons. Article 9 confers the right to maintain an opinion. The Applicant's opinions which he has held from before the war and continued to hold during the war and during the protracted criminal proceedings in the postwar period are not in any way criminal. Article 14 prohibits discrimination on grounds of political opinion. Persons of all sorts of opinions, communists, national socialists, anarchists and even persons who have committed common law delinquencies have been admitted to practice. If a lawyer has been subjected to a disciplinary measure including disbarment by the Bar Council, even as the result of a political or common law conviction, he has the right to appeal to the courts. If a young lawyer is refused admission he has the right to appeal to the courts. If a lawyer is disbarred by the Executive and so later refused re-admission he has the right to appeal to the courts and may be reinstated by them in spite of renewed opposition of the Executive. The Court of Cassation itself has held that the silence of the Imperial Decree of 1810 on the point of recourse to the courts upon refusal of re-admission did not preclude such recourse. It was not until 1920, in a particular case, it reversed this opinion." This position discriminated against the Applicant who had always strictly observed the discipline of the Bar. The Applicant develops arguments relating to the uncertain state of Belgian law on matters touching his application, and also discusses the Belgian law concerning the prerogatives and independence of the Bar Councils. He maintains that the Bar Councils are not in fact independent bodies but if they were, as the Belgian courts have held, their actions in relation to him constitute clear violations of Articles 6 and 14. He states "A former bâtonnier was adjoined to the Court of Appeal at Ghent for the particular case; this bâtonnier, sitting with the Bench, took an active part in the deliberations. The Applicant was during part of the proceedings in the dock (banc des accusés) and had to face not only the public prosecution but also the opponent sitting on the Bench. The proceedings were in the nature of a criminal procedure, whereas any argument, explanation or consultation should have been produced from the other side, as provided for in civil matters. This is a manifest violation of Article 6 of the Convention, the universal rule of law: Nemo judex in re sua and the procedural guarantee: Equality of Arms". The Applicant also claims that he was not granted proper legal assistance before the Court of Cassation and considers that this amounts to a breach of the principle of equality of arms (Article 6). In this connection he writes: "Lawyers at the Court of Cassation are appointed by the State and are therefore ... under an obligation to act provided that the applicant is willing to pay for the expenses. Various lawyers of the Court of Cassation refused to handle the case although the applicant was willing to pay and paid for the expenses: all procedures would have been null and void without the intervention of a lawyer of the Court of Cassation as appears from consultations by lawyers who refused. Finally, in extremis, a lawyer was designated by the bâtonnier. This lawyer only acted as a depositary and all the work had to be done by the Applicant himself, who is obviously not a specialist in matters of Cassation". The Applicant maintains that he was thus denied legal assistance and a fair trial. The Applicant further complains of the continuing effects of his conviction in 1946 particularly insofar as they affect his admission to the Bar and invokes Article 7 of the Convention. He states paragraph (2) does not apply to him in contradistinction to the case of De Becker (Yearbook 1962, p. 322) since "it has never been contended that the applicant has been guilty of any of these acts [i.e. acts committed by De Becker] having observed strictly the rule of law, whether municipal or international, and that hence he could not be considered as criminal under the terms of Article 7 paragraph (2) ... Retrospective national legislation is exceptionable [? permissible] only insofar as it is in conformity with the principles of law recognised by civilized nations. The existence and interpretation of those principles are subject to international law only and not to national law, even less in retrospective frame. According to the preparatory works Article 7, paragraph (2) was intended to give immunity for post-war behaviour (the exception implicitly recognised that such behaviour was unlawful in principle) but that immunity does not extend beyond its proper terms. Moreover exceptio ist strictae interpretationis. In the most remote order, in dubio pro reo. Since the escape clause does not impede the principle Article 7 (1) applies. Indeed, the effects of the application of retrospective legislation, as resumed integrally or confirmed in recent documents, are actual and persistent and derive wholly from a conviction considered as unlawful by said Article 7, paragraph (1) .... These effects have been steadily intensified by adverse decisions and proceedings .... and by absence of motivation which apparently, have no other effect than to create a suspicion of guilt and at all events to compel the admission of guilt not committed, always denied. The Applicant has admitted fault on two points". [The reference appears to be to his going to Berlin in 1938 and joining a certain group of persons in 1939.) He continues: "The Applicant is reluctantly compelled to distinguish further his case from the De Becker case, which has been and is used to charge him with heavier penalties. In the De Becker case at Yearbook 1958-59 page 218 the Commission said that the Belgian Court: "allowed the existence of attenuating circumstances, namely intentions of the German authorities, which opposition led to his arrest by the said authorities in October, 1943, and deportation to Germany for two years". In contrast it should be pointed out that the Applicant was, first, convicted with aggravating circumstances; secondly that he was not "arrested" or "deported" to Germany in conditions of the case alluded to but was subjected to regular criminal proceedings and penitentiary onslaught as well during as after the war; thirdly that the perpetual consequences of his conviction were not maintained, but legally lifted on December ..., 1956, de facto, however applied in sharper form. On all those points the Applicant demands the right of explanation, since otherwise, it would be and is already supposed that, for instance, he fostered separatism and annexionism in Belgium." The Applicant then brings an additional argument on Article 123 series of the Belgian Criminal Code and Articles 3 and 10 of the Convention as follows: "That argument pervades the whole case, since according to the Black List and Article 123 series scores of lawyers were excluded from the Bar ex officio, disproving the whole array of assertions on the independence and self-determination of the Bar Councils. Its spirit was again operative in the Applicant's case. But his claim is also lodged on the basis of Article 10 of the Convention insofar as Article 123 series of the Belgian Criminal Code extends to the present its actual and persistent effects in the form of restriction of freedom of expression. The text of Article 123 series has been fully applicable to the petitioner for long years in all its components. Its effects have been far heavier and more persistent than those inflicted on many condemned to death." The Applicant complains of a degrading process with lasting and increasing effects which initially had not justifiable basis: he invokes Articles 3 and 7 of the Convention and maintains that penalties which continue forever are repulsive to law and human conscience. The Applicant has also sent material relating to criticism of a book about King Leopold an copies of letters relating to double taxation and pension insurance contributions but it would seem that these are only intended for background information. THE LAW Whereas, in regard to the Applicant's complaints concerning the refusal of the Ghent Bar Council to re-admit him to practice as a lawyer and the refusal of the Belgian Courts to interfere with this decision, it is to be observed that the Convention, under the terms of Article 1 (Art. 1), guaranteed only the rights and freedoms set forth in Section I of the Convention; and whereas, under Article 25, paragraph (1) (Art. 25-1), only the alleged violation of one of those rights and freedoms by a Contracting Party can be the subject of an application presented by person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals; whereas otherwise its examination is outside the competence of the Commission ratione materiae; whereas the right to be admitted to the exercise of a particular profession is not as such included among the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention; whereas the Applicant's complaint is in particular directed against the fact that the courts concerned with this case have refused to review the decision of the Ghent Bar Council; whereas he claims in this respect that he was denied access to the courts for the determination of a civil right, namely the right of admission to practice as a lawyer, in accordance with Article 6, paragraph (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention; whereas this Article provides inter alia that "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law; whereas, however, the interpretation given by the Commission to the concept of a "civil right" within the meaning of this Article does not include the right to be admitted and to exercise the function of a barrister; Whereas in coming to this conclusion the Commission has, in particular, had regard to features peculiar to the bar is a profession; indeed, barristers are called upon to exercise important functions in the administration of justice, in civil as well as in criminal cases, and the question whether or not a person should be admitted to exercise such functions cannot be considered to be a question of the determination of his civil rights; whereas in this respect the Commission refers to its decision in Application Nos. 1931/63 - X v. Austria - Yearbook Vol. 7, p. 212 and 2409/65 - X v. Federal Republic of Germany; whereas it follows that this part of the Application is incompatible with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention; Whereas, in regard to the Application's complaint that the continuing refusal to permit him to practise his profession and is, as such, repulsive to law and human conscience and this amounts to inhuman treatment, an examination of the case as it has been submitted, including an examination made ex officio, does not disclose any appearance of a violation particular in Article 3 (Art. 3); whereas the same objection applied to his complaint that he has been restricted in his freedom that he has been so restricted during the period covered by the Convention; Whereas it follows that this part of the Application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention; Whereas, further, the Applicant maintains that his freedom of opinion has been indirectly restricted through the continuing effects of his conviction in 1946; whereas this conviction occurred prior to 14th June, 1955, the date of the entry into force of the Convention with respect to Belgium; and whereas, in accordance with the generally recognised rules of international law, the Convention only governs, for each contracting Party, facts subsequent to its entry into force with respect to the Party; whereas it follows that the examination of the Application, insofar as it relates to this conviction and the alleged effects thereof is outside the competence of the Commission ratione temporis; Now therefore the Commission declares this application INADMISSIBLE.