THE FACTS

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

The applicant is a citizen of the United States of America, born in
1916 and residing in Berlin.

From statements and documents submitted by the applicant, it appears
that on .. September 1956 while still in New York, he lodged an
application for compensation for damages suffered in Germany during the
Nazi time. Allegedly he was entitled to such a compensation on the
basis of the Federal Compensation Act (Bundesentschädigungsgesetz). He
alleges that his application was forged by his first lawyer because he
refused to give him a power-of-attorney and that his numerous
consecutive lawyers were never interested in his case. He himself then
came to Berlin and arranged formalities with the Compensation Office
and was informed that his application would be reconsidered (wieder
eingesetzt) as having been lodged in December 1964 but he was refused
permission to inspect his file himself. He then sought the services of
a new layer who again allegedly did not take any interest in the
progress of his case and when the applicant finally arrived in Berlin
in 1967 for permanent settlement, he discovered that nothing had been
done in his case.

His application for compensation was rejected by the Compensation
Office in April 1968 as having been lodged out of time. The applicant
raised an action before the Regional Court in Berlin (Landgericht)
which was dismissed on .. August 1968 allegedly due to the attitude of
his lawyer who appeared forty minutes late at the first hearing and on
the day of the hearing after the adjournment he again appeared with
delay and did not plead at all.

Thereafter the applicant obtained permission to inspect the dossier
himself. He allegedly discovered that several documents were removed
from his file by unauthorised persons and none of the officials of the
Compensation Office knew where these documents were. In a file note it
was further mentioned that some of the documents were transferred into
file J. but in fact such a file did not exist.

On .. October 1968 the applicant lodged an appeal against the decision
of the Regional Court with the Berlin Court of Appeal (Kammergericht).
Allegedly the Court insisted that the applicant should appoint a lawyer
in order to represent him. The applicant instructed Mr. S., who,
however, allegedly did not follow his instructions and did not draw the
Court's attention to several arguments raised by the applicant. At a
later stage allegedly the lawyer tried to blackmail him and upon the
applicant's refusal, he informed the Court by letter of .. March 1969
that he did not represent the applicant any more.

On .. November 1969 the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal without an
oral hearing. It considered that since the applicant's lawyer, although
duly summoned did not appear, and since the representative of the Land
Berlin so requested the decision could be taken without an oral
hearing, according to the Federal Compensation Act. The applicant
submits that at the time he was not represented by any lawyer since Mr.
S. renounced his mandate on .. March 1969 and this was known to the
Court. He further alleged that it is not the representative of the
defendant who requested such a procedure. In fact, the President of the
Court suggested that in a way which did not leave any alternative open.

The applicant apparently did not make use of this possibility and
instead he lodged a constitutional appeal with the Federal
Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) against both the
decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court. His
appeal against the latter was rejected as being clearly ill-founded and
against the first for failure to exhaust the available remedies, i.e.
failure to present an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court through a
lawyer according to the relevant provisions.

In the written pleadings to the Federal Constitutional Court the
applicant argued that the provisions of the Compensation Act requiring
the applicant to be represented by counsel were contrary to the
provisions of the German Basic Law, in particular to Article 103 (1).

The applicant complains that the refusal by the Court of Appeal to
allow him to plead his case himself before it on the ground that his
representation by counsel was compulsory constitutes a violation of the
European Convention on Human Rights and in particular Article 6 (1).
Moreover, he submits that the provisions of the Compensation Act, which
compulsorily require the applicants to be represented by a lawyer,
constitute themselves a violation of Article 6 (1) of the Convention.

THE LAW

Whereas the applicant complains that, contrary to Article 6 (1)
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention, the Court of Appeal did not allow him to
plead his case before it himself, on the ground that his representation
by counsel was compulsory under the provisions of the Federal
Compensation Act (Bundesentschädigungsgesetz); whereas Article 6 (1)
(Art. 6-1) which provides for a fair hearing to any person involved in
proceedings to determine a civil right or obligation, does not debar
Contracting Parties from making regulations governing the access of
litigants to the courts, provided that such regulations do not in their
application violate the provisions of the Convention; whereas, it is
not the task of the Commission to examine in general whether the
relevant provisions of the Federal Compensation Act are in conformity
with the Convention;
Whereas, it is not the task of the Commission to examine in general
whether the relevant provisions of the Federal Compensation Act are in
conformity with the Convention (see Applications Nos. 727/60, in
Yearbook, Vol. 3, p. 302 (308);  2804/66, X. v. Federal Republic of
Germany, in Collection of Decisions, Vol. 27, p. 61 (72-73));  but
solely to determine the question whether the application of these
provisions in the present case violated Article 6 (1);

Whereas the Commission is therefore called upon to consider whether the
specific circumstances of the proceedings against the applicant
amounted to a denial of his right to a fair hearing in the
determination of a civil right within the meaning of Article 6 (1)
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention;

Whereas the question whether a claim for compensation for Nazi
persecution constitutes such a "civil right" has been raised, but not
decided in a previous decision of the Commission (see application No.
4045/69, Collection of Decisions, Vol.34, p. 33 (35-36)); whereas, even
assuming that the applicant's claim for compensation constitutes a
civil right within the meaning of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention the Commission first notes that the applicant, although not
obliged to do so, instructed lawyers to represent him at the stage of
the original proceedings before the administrative authorities; whereas
the Commission further notes that the applicant also instructed counsel
to represent him, as required by the relevant legal provisions, before
the Regional Court and the Court of Appeal; whereas the Commission
considers that in the present case the applicant, although not
permitted to address the courts in person, was able fully to submit his
case to the court through a lawyer;

Whereas, therefore, the Commission finds that the compulsory
representation of the applicant by a lawyer before the Regional and
Appeal Courts does not constitute a violation of his right to a fair
hearing guaranteed by Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention;

Whereas it follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded and
must be rejected in accordance with Article 27, paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2), of the Convention;

Now therefore the Commission DECLARES THIS APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE