FOURTH SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 27110/95 
by Jorgen Olof NYLUND 
against Finland

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section) sitting on 29 June 1999 as a Chamber composed of

Mr G. Ress, President,

Mr M. Pellonpää, 

Mr I. Cabral Barreto,

Mr V. Butkevych,

Mrs N. Vajić,

Mr J. Hedigan,

Mrs S. Botoucharova, Judges,

with Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar;

Having regard to Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

Having regard to the application introduced on 22 November 1994 by Jörgen NYLUND against Finland and registered on 25 April 1995 under file no. 27110/95;

Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 49 of the Rules of Court;

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government on 12 January 1998 and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant on 17 March 1998;

Having deliberated;

Decides as follows:

 

THE FACTS

The applicant is a Finnish national, born in 1950 and living in Helsinki. He is a maritime broker.

He is represented before the Court by Mr Matti Wuori, a lawyer practising in Helsinki.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

A. Particular circumstances of the case

In October 1987, the applicant started a relationship with T. They began living together in mid-November and became engaged to be married on 1 January 1988. In May 1988 it was confirmed that T was pregnant. According to the applicant, he and T had deliberately decided to found a family. In mid-June their engagement and cohabitation ended.

On 21 July 1988, T married a person called R. In January 1989, T gave birth to a daughter called J.

The applicant claims to be the biological father of J. On 7 September 1989, on his own initiative, he recognised J as his child before the Child Welfare Supervisor (lastenvalvoja, barnatillsyningsman) of Espoo.   

By virtue of section 20 of the Paternity Act (isyyslaki, lagen om faderskap), the matter of the approval of his recognition came before the District Court Judge (kihlakunnantuomari, häradshövding) of Espoo. In his decision of 28 September 1989, the Judge noted that J was born in wedlock whereby followed a legal presumption of the husband’s paternity. In the written proceedings T denied the applicant’s paternity and maintained that she had already had a relationship with her husband around the time of J’s conception. On the basis of these circumstances, the Judge found that the applicant was not J’s father. According to section 45 of the Paternity Act, no appeal lay from the Judge’s decision.

The Judge’s decision was written on a form designed for decisions concerning the recognition of paternity. On the back of the form was attached information for the man about, inter alia, the legal consequences of the recognition.

T refused the applicant’s offer to pay for a voluntary DNA test. The applicant’s attempts to see J have been fruitless, apparently due to T’s opposition thereto.

On 14 June 1991, the applicant took legal action seeking a determination of whether he was the biological father of J or not. In doing so, he referred to Article 8 of the Convention. 

The mother T and the child J were summoned to the District Court (kihlakunnanoikeus, häradsrätten) of Espoo. During the first hearing on 22 October 1991, they objected to the trial, stating that the applicant had no right of action. Furthermore, they based their objection on the failure to summon J’s other guardian R to the court. Subsequently,  R was also summoned.

On 10 March 1992, the District Court held a second hearing in which it considered the matter of the applicant’s right of action.  Both parties submitted to the District Court an expert opinion, respectively, concerning the issue of the applicant’s legal standing. The parties disagreed over whether it was at all possible to start legal proceedings concerning only the determination of whether a person was a natural father or not, or whether the action should include a request for the establishment or annulment of paternity.  

On 10 March 1992, the District Court decided that the claim was not, as such, formulated in a manner that would be contrary to the Paternity Act. It found that the Paternity Act gave the courts an opportunity merely to declare whether a man and a child were, in reality, close relatives without, at the same time, establishing a legal father-child relation between them. However, the District Court also found that, according to the Paternity Act, a man claiming to be a father did not have the right of action as regards paternity proceedings relating to a child born in wedlock. The District Court considered Articles 8 and 12 of the Convention and Article 5 of Protocol No. 7 to the Convention as well as Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989. It concluded that the applicant had no right of action regarding the determination of whether he was J’s  father or not. The District Court then dismissed the applicant’s action without examining it on the merits.

The applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal (hovioikeus, hovrätten) of Helsinki. He emphasised that the child’s fundamental right to know her origins could not be denied on the grounds that the other biological parent had opposed it. From the applicant’s point of view, the focus of his action was whether a woman, who had become pregnant while living in a relationship similar to marriage, had the right to prevent the examination of the paternity and judicially to kidnap the child on the formal ground that she had married somebody else. The applicant stated that he had only requested that the fact that he was the father of J be confirmed, without asking to establish a legal father-child relation. The applicant had a very strong need for the protection of law in the case. He argued that it was in the best interest of the child that the matter be solved before she herself reached the age of 15, thereby obtaining the right of action of her own.  He requested that the District Court’s judgment be quashed and the case be referred back to the District Court.

On 23 December 1992, the Court of Appeal rejected the applicant’s appeal. It reached the same conclusion as the District Court but its reasoning differed from that of the latter. The Court of Appeal noted that the applicant had only requested that it be determined whether or not he had fathered the child born when T was married to R. Biological paternity, as a fact separate from the kinship, did not in itself create any rights or obligations for the man or the child. Furthermore, the establishment of such a fact without the consent of the child’s parents would disturb relations in the child’s family. The best interests of the child did not require that biological paternity should be determined separately from the kinship. The Court of Appeal found that the action was not based on the Paternity Act. Furthermore, since the action in reality included a request for the annulment of the presumption of the husband’s paternity, it was contrary to the aim of the Paternity Act. The Court of Appeal found that the applicant had no legal interest to have determined the biological paternity of J on any other grounds either. Lastly, the Court of Appeal found that the international conventions referred to in the District Court’s judgment did not include provisions pursuant to which the applicant would have had the right to the examination in issue.

The applicant requested leave to appeal. He referred, inter alia, to Article 8 of the Convention.

On 24 May 1993, the Supreme Court (korkein oikeus, högsta domstolen) refused the applicant leave to appeal.    

B. Relevant domestic law

The Paternity Act (700/1975)

Chapter 1, General Provisions

Section 2, Presumption of Paternity on the basis of Marriage (351/1980)

The husband is the father of a child born during marriage. If the marriage is dissolved before the birth of a child due to the death of the husband, he is the father of the child if the date of birth of the child after the dissolution is such that the child could have been conceived during the marriage. However, if the mother has entered into a new marriage before the birth of the child, the latter husband is the father of the child.

Section 3, Establishment of Paternity by Recognition and Decision of the Court

When a man who was not married to the mother of the child at the time of the birth of the child wants to recognise his paternity, the provisions of chapter 3 on the recognition of paternity shall apply to such recognition (351/1980).

The court shall establish that the man is the father of the child if it is shown that he had intercourse with the mother at the time of conception, and if, in view of the statements of the mother of the child and the man as well as all the other circumstances, it is deemed proven that the man has fathered the child. The provisions of chapter 4 shall apply to the court proceedings for the establishment of paternity.

Section 4, Annulment of Paternity (351/1980)

The paternity of the husband may be annulled through recognition. The court may upon an action establish that the husband or a man who has recognised his paternity is not the father. The provisions of chapter 5 shall apply to the annulment of paternity.

Chapter 3, Recognition of Paternity

Section 15, Issuing a Statement of Recognition

A man who wants to recognise his paternity shall notify a child welfare supervisor, a population registrar or a notary public in person that he is the father of the child. ...

Section 16, Approval by the Child

If the child is legally competent, the recognition shall be subject to his approval. ...

Section 16 (a), Approval by the Mother and Husband (351/1980)

If the recognition concerns a child referred to in section 2, the recognition shall be subject to the approval of the mother and the husband.

Section 20, Enforcement of Recognition

When a man has recognised his paternity, the child welfare supervisor responsible for the investigation of paternity under section 6, paragraph 2 shall without delay send the documents on the recognition as well as the record of the investigation of paternity for approval to the competent district court judge or city court chairman or other legally trained court member appointed by the city court for this purpose (351/1980).

The judge shall approve the recognition if

1) the recognition has been made in the manner provided in sections 15-19,   and

2) if there is no cause to assume that the man who has recognised his paternity is not the father of the child.

...

Chapter 4, Court Proceedings for the Establishment of Paternity

Section 22, Right of Action

The child shall have a right of action for the establishment of paternity.

The man shall have a right of action for the establishment of paternity if the judge has not approved the recognition on the grounds referred to in section 20, paragraph 2 (2). The action shall be brought within one year from the date on which the man was informed of the decision of the judge. However, the man shall not have a right of action if the recognition concerns a child referred to in section 2 (351/1980).

Chapter 5, Annulment of Paternity

Section 34, Grounds for Annulment of Paternity

On the basis of an action the court shall establish that the husband is not the father of the child referred to in section 2 if it is shown that someone other than the husband had sexual intercourse with the mother and, in view of all the circumstances, it may be deemed proven that the child was conceived at that time or if, on the basis of the hereditary characteristics of the child or of other special circumstances, it can otherwise be deemed proven that the man is not the father of the child.

If the child was conceived before marriage or when the spouses were separated due to a breakdown of the relations between the spouses, the court shall establish that the husband is not the father of the child unless in can be proven to be probable that the spouses had sexual intercourse with one another at the time the child was conceived.

The paternity of the husband is annulled when a man other than the husband has recognised his paternity in the manner provided in section 15, paragraph 1, and the judge has approved the recognition (351/1980).

Section 35, Right of Action

An action to annul paternity may be brought by the husband, mother or child.

The husband and mother shall bring an action within five years from the birth of the child.

...

Section 45, Restrictions on Appeal

The decision of the judge in a matter concerning the approval of recognition shall not be subject to appeal.

By virtue of section 4 of the Population Data Act (väestötietolaki, befolkningsdatalag, 507/1993), in the Population Data System shall be registered, as describing a persons status under family law, inter alia, data of his or her parents. The former Population Register Decree (väestökirja-asetus, personregisterförordning, 198/1970) included a similar provision.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant maintains that he has been denied an effective remedy by which he could establish, on credible biological grounds, whether he is the biological father of J or not. He contends that the Paternity Act is unfair since it enables the child’s mother to “legally to kidnap” the child.  He argues that such legitimate considerations as equality of sexes and the protection of the biological parent-child relationship, including the rights of the father and child, outweigh the need to defend the social institution of family. He points out that the family unit, consisting of the then pregnant woman and himself, enjoys no less protection under Article 8 of the Convention than does a family created through marriage.

The applicant maintains that he has been denied the right to a fair and public hearing guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention. He maintains, further, that the mother’s absolute right to decide on her child’s fatherhood infringes his rights under Article 14 of the Convention. Moreover, that right is in conflict with the child’s right to know his real father, the latter specifically endorsed in Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The applicant invokes Articles 6 and 8 of the Convention, both taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention.

PROCEDURE

The application was introduced before the European Commission of Human Rights on 22 November 1994 and registered on 25 April 1995.

On 23 October 1997, the Commission decided to communicate the application to the respondent Government.

The Government’s written observations were submitted on 12 January 1998. The applicant replied on 17 March 1998.

On 1 November 1998, by operation of Article 5 § 2 of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, the case fell to be examined by the Court in accordance with the provisions of that Protocol.

THE LAW

1.  Concerning Article 6 of the Convention,

taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention

The applicant complains that he has been denied the right to a fair hearing contrary to Article 6 of the Convention. Furthermore, he submits that he has been discriminated against since the violation under Article 6 was due to the opposition of the child’s mother.

The applicant invokes Article 6 of the Convention, both taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention.

Article 6 of the Convention in its relevant parts reads as follows:

“1.   In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing ... by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law...”

Article 14 of the Convention reads as follows:

“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”

The Government maintain that the right of access to a court is not an absolute one. In this regard, they submit that the applicant has had such access to court as is required by Article 6 since he has been able to present his case before the courts and have the legality of their decisions examined.  As regards Article 14 of the Convention, the Government maintain that the applicant and T were not in analogous situations. The purpose of the provisions concerning the establishment of paternity is to ensure that the child has parents, not to discriminate against one sex by favouring the other. 

The applicant maintains that section 2 of the Paternity Act does not only establish a legal presumption of paternity but constitutes an absolute legal obstacle to any attempt by a bona fide person professing to be the father to have his claim, regardless of the seriousness and weight of the arguments and evidence supporting it, examined by a tribunal against the wishes of the mother. The applicant maintains that the interests of the child or those of the society are not served by ignorance of biological paternity. In his view, the purpose of the Paternity Act in a modern society should be to create a legal regime whereby the paternity of any child can be established beyond doubt on the basis of scientific means with an emphasis on actual biological paternity.   

As a preliminary remark, the Court would observe that it has interpreted the applicant’s reference to the rights of the child as supporting the applicant’s own complaints and not as an independent complaint, taking into account that the applicant has no legal standing to represent J in these proceedings. 

The Court notes that the parties have agreed that Article 6 of the Convention is applicable in the present case. However, the Court, which has to examine its competence ratione materiae ex officio, is unable to reach the same conclusion.

The Court recalls that Article 6 § 1 of the Convention applies to disputes (contestations) over rights which can be said, at least on arguable grounds, to be recognised under domestic law. The dispute must be genuine and serious; it may relate not only to the actual existence of a right but also to its scope and the manner of its exercise. The outcome of the proceedings must be directly decisive for the right in question, mere tenuous connections or remote consequences not being sufficient to bring Article 6 § 1 into play (see, inter alia, the Masson and Van Zon v. the Netherlands judgment of 28 September 1995, Series A no. 327, pp. 19-20, § 48-52 and the Werner v. Austria judgment of 24 November 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1997-VII, p. 2507, § 34).

The Court has first examined whether the right to have mere biological paternity determined could arguably be said to be recognised under national law. In this connection, the Court must have regard to the wording of the relevant legal provisions and to the way in  which these provisions are interpreted by the domestic courts.

The Court notes that the Paternity Act includes chapters concerning recognition, establishment and annulment of paternity. It does not include provisions as regards the legal consequences of the paternity but these are to be found in the relevant material legislation. The Court finds no indication of a right to a judicial declaration of biological paternity that does not entail at least some automatic legal consequences. A paternity claim, emphasising mere biological paternity, means that the court proceedings are instituted with the object of obliging the opposite party to undergo blood tests. A right to have mere biological paternity examined by scientific methods is not a right recognised in national law. Furthermore, the Court cannot overlook the judgments of the domestic courts, particularly that of the Court of Appeal.

In so far as the applicant’s action may be understood as a request for the annulment of the husband’s paternity and the establishment of his own, the Court notes that the applicant did not have the right to make such claims under the national law, namely the Paternity Act. Neither can such a right be derived from Article 8 of the Convention, which has the status of law in Finland. In this respect the Court refers to its findings below. 

In the view of the above considerations, the Court concludes that the claim asserted by the applicant did not concern a “right” which could arguably be said to be recognised under the national law. Therefore, Article 6 § 1 of the Convention does not apply to the proceedings now in question.

According to the Court’s case-law, “Article 14 complements the other substantive provisions of the Convention and its Protocols. It has no independent existence, since it has effect solely in relation to ‘the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms’ safeguarded by those provisions. Although the application of Article 14 does not presuppose a breach of one or more of those provisions - and to this extent it is autonomous -, there can be no room for its application unless the facts of the case fall within the ambit of one or more of the latter” (see the Botta v. Italy judgment of 24 February 1998, Reports 1998-I, p. 424, § 39).

As the Court has concluded that Article 6 is not applicable, Article 14 cannot apply in this respect.

   

It follows that these complaints are incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention pursuant to Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

2. Concerning Article 8 of the Convention,

taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention

(a) Article 8 of the Convention

The applicant complains that the legal presumption of the husband’s paternity violates his rights under Article 8 of the Convention since the family unit that consisted of himself and the then pregnant woman has not been protected. Furthermore, he argues that the mother’s right under the national law to prevent him from establishing his paternity discriminates against him within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention.

Article 8 of the Convention reads in its relevant parts as follows:

“1.   Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life ...

2.   There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

The Government argue that the facts of the case do not fall within the ambit of Article 8 of the Convention. The Government maintain that the relationship between the applicant and the child’s mother T did not last longer than for some eight months, and they cohabited seven months. Shortly after the confirmation of the conception, their cohabitation ended, and soon after that T married her husband R. The child was born several months later in wedlock to T and R. In her reply to the District Court, T asserted in essence that the applicant was not the father of J. The Government conclude that the applicant’s link with the child is an insufficient basis to bring the alleged relationship within the scope of family life.

As regards the substance of the case under Article 8, the Government note that the purpose of the provisions of the Paternity Act with its legal presumption is to protect a marriage-based family, including the child, from an action for the annulment of the paternity of the husband, brought by any man outside the family.  It should be noted that, after reaching the age of 15 years, the child itself may take action in order to establish his or her biological father. The Government submit that the appropriate fair balance has been struck between the interests of the applicant and the prevailing general interest.

The applicant maintains that the emphasis in the Governments arguments is placed on the legal and social concept of family and privacy rather than the natural and biological fact of parenthood. This argumentation is formalistic and legalistic and, consequently, unsustainable. The applicant does not accept that the interest of the child is best served by ignorance of the child’s real father. The applicant expresses the fear that without a confirmation of the biological paternity, there would be no legal obstacle to a marriage within the prohibited degrees of relationship. He states that the Government has not presented sufficient and convincing reasons in support of their view that the matter falls within the margin of appreciation available to the respondent State. The provisions of the Paternity Act are, particularly as regards the applicant’s case, disproportionate to the ends legitimately pursued by this legislation. 

The Court recalls that the notion of “family life” in Article 8 is not confined solely to marriage-based relationships and may encompass other de facto “family” ties where the parties are living together outside marriage (see the Keegan v. Ireland judgment of 26 May 1994, Series A no. 290, pp. 17-18, § 44 and the Kroon and Others v. the Netherlands judgment of 20 September 1994, Series A no. 297-C, pp. 55-56, § 30). The application of this principle has been found to extend equally to the relationship between natural fathers and their children born out of wedlock. Further, the Court considers that Article 8 cannot be interpreted as only protecting “family life” which has already been established but, where the circumstances warrant it, must extend to the potential relationship which may develop between a natural father and a child born out of wedlock. Relevant factors in this regard include the nature of the relationship between the natural parents and the demonstrable interest in and commitment by the natural father to the child both before and after the birth (see no. 22920/93, dec. 6.4.1994, D.R.77-A, p. 115).

In the present case, the Court is aware that the applicant cohabited with the mother and was engaged to her at the time she became pregnant. Furthermore, the Court is also aware that the mother has not agreed that the applicant create any ties with the child. However, the Court cannot overlook that the applicant has not, in fact, seen the child or formed any emotional bond with her. In this respect, the case now at issue differs from the cases of Keegan (see above) and of Kroon and Others (see above), where the applicants had emotional bonds with the children in question. Moreover, unlike in the last-mentioned cases, the mother of the child has denied the applicant’s paternity.

The Court finds that, in the circumstances of this case, the applicant’s link with the child has an insufficient basis in law and fact to bring the alleged relationship within the scope of family life within the meaning of Article 8 § 1 of the Convention.

However, Article 8 protects not only “family” but also “private” life. The Court examines, therefore, whether the nature of the applicant’s relationship with J affects the applicant’s private life. In this regard, the Court recalls that in the Rasmussen case (see the Rasmussen v. Denmark judgment of 28 November 1984, Series A no. 87, p. 13, § 33) the Court found that the determination of the applicant’s legal relations with his putative daughter undoubtedly concerned his private life.

The Court notes that the instant case differs from the Rasmussen case in two respects. Firstly, in the Rasmussen case a husband wished to institute proceedings contesting his own paternity. Secondly, in that case the action aimed at the determination of the legal relations between the man and the child. In the instant case, the applicant’s action is aimed at the confirmation of an alleged biological fact rather than at the establishment of legal relations. The Court finds, nonetheless, that the circumstances in the applicant’s life in the spring of 1988, as described by the applicant himself, were such as to bring the facts of the instant case within the ambit of Article 8. Therefore, the Court has considered whether the fact that the applicant was barred from instituting paternity proceedings as regards J, reveals a lack of respect of the applicant’s private life. 

The Court reiterates that the essential object of Article 8 is to protect the individual against arbitrary action by the public authorities. There may in addition be positive obligations inherent in effective "respect" for family life (or, as in the present case, private life). However, the boundaries between the State’s positive and negative obligations under this provision do not lend themselves to precise definition. The applicable principles are nonetheless similar. In both contexts regard must be had to the fair balance that has to be struck between the competing interests of the individual and of the community as a whole; and in both contexts the State enjoys a certain margin of appreciation (see, the above-mentioned Keegan judgment, p. 19, § 49, and the above-mentioned Kroon and Others judgment, p. 56, § 31).

The Court notes that, in comparison to the Kroon and Others case, in which the obstacle to bringing paternity proceedings ran counter to the wishes of those concerned, in the instant case it accords with the wishes of the married couple in whose wedlock the child was born. In fact, the obstacle is a result of their opposition. Furthermore, in the Kroon and Others case the Court noted that the legal presumption of paternity did not actually benefit anyone (see, the above-mentioned Kroon and Others judgment, p. 58, § 40). The Court recalls that, in the instant case, the Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s action not only on the basis of the wording of the provisions of the Paternity Act but also since an examination of the applicant’s claim would not have been in the interest of the child. The Court of Appeal took into account that the establishment of biological paternity would not, as such, create any rights or obligations for those concerned. It also referred to the disturbance such an examination would cause to the family relationships in the child’s family. 

The Court finds nothing arbitrary in this assessment of the child’s interests. There are reasons of legal certainty and security of family relationships for States to apply a general presumption according to which a married man is regarded as the father of his wife’s children. It is justifiable for domestic courts to give greater weight to the interests of the child and the family in which it lives than to the interest of an applicant in obtaining determination of a biological fact.  The Court moreover notes that, under the national law, the child can, when reaching the age of 15 years, decide herself whether it is in her interest to institute paternity proceedings or not. This possibility does not, however, lead to the conclusion that a legal action from a person outside her family should be allowed, especially when such a conclusion would, in fact, prevent her from later making a decision of her own.   

An examination by the Court of this complaint does not disclose any appearance of a violation of the applicant’s rights and freedoms set out in Article 8 of the Convention. 

It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

(b) Article 14 of the Convention

As regards Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention, the Government and the applicant submit the same arguments as under Article 14 in conjunction with Article 6 of the Convention. 

The Court reiterates that Article 14 affords protection against discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms safeguarded by the other substantive provisions of the Convention. However, not every difference in treatment will amount to a violation of this Article. Instead, it must be established that other persons in an analogous or relevantly similar situation enjoy preferential treatment, and that there is no reasonable or objective justification for this distinction (see the Sheffield and Horsham v. the United Kingdom judgment of 30 July 1998, Reports 1998-V, p. 2032, § 75). Contracting States enjoy a margin of appreciation in assessing whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law (see the Stubbings and Others v. the United Kingdom judgment of 22 October 1996, Reports 1996-IV, p. 1507, § 72).

As regards the applicant’s submission concerning the right of the child’s mother to prevent him from establishing his paternity, the Court recalls that the child’s mother had this right due to the fact that the child was born after her marriage to R. Furthermore, her husband had the same right. The Court finds that, though in some fields the de facto relationship of cohabitees is recognised, there still exist differences between married and unmarried couples, in particular, differences in legal status and legal effects. Marriage continues to be characterised by a corpus of rights and obligations that differentiate it markedly from the situation of a man and woman who cohabit. Having regard to the circumstances of the case, the Court finds that the applicant was not in a situation analogous to that of the child’s mother within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention. In so far as they can be considered to have been in such a situation, namely, at the time of their cohabitation, the Court finds that the national courts’ approach pursues a legitimate aim of securing or reconciling the rights of the child and its family and that the means employed to this end are not disproportionate. 

The Court finds that the applicant has not been subjected to discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the Convention.   

It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,

DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.

Vincent Berger Georg Ress 
 Registrar President

NYLUND v. FINLANDE DECISION


NYLUND v. FINLANDE DECISION