THIRD SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 44998/98 
by A. 
against Finland

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 8 January 2004 as a Chamber composed of

Mr G. Ress, President
 Mr I. Cabral Barreto
 Mr L. Caflisch
 Mr J. Hedigan
 Mr M. Pellonpää
 Mrs H.S. Greve, 
 Mr K. Traja, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application introduced with the European Commission of Human Rights on 29 September 1998,

Having regard to Article 5 § 2 of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, by which the competence to examine the application was transferred to the Court,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant A. is a FinnishNote national, who was born in 1946. He is a lawyer and a member of the Finnish Bar Association. He is not represented before the Court. The respondent Government are represented by their Agent, Mr A. Kosonen, Director in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

As from 1994 onwards the applicant represented his clients together with Professor E., a professor of law, in criminal proceedings in which the applicant’s clients were complainants. On 19 March 1997 the District Court (käräjäoikeus, tingsrätten) of Helsinki rejected the claims submitted on behalf of the applicant’s clients. The applicant and E. submitted a lengthy (151 pages) notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal (hovioikeus, hovrätten) of Helsinki on behalf of their clients, criticising the District Court’s decision and related procedural matters.

The Finnish Bar Association (Suomen Asianajajaliitto, Finlands Advokatförbund) sent a letter to the applicant on 2 October 1997, informing him that the presiding judge in the above-mentioned proceedings, J., had complained to the Bar Association about the allegedly defamatory language used by the applicant in the notice of appeal. The language was described by J. as being below acceptable standards and inappropriate for a member of the Bar Association. She also stated her dissatisfaction with the way the applicant had belittled her reasoning. In her opinion it was alleged several times that she had judged the case arbitrarily. The applicant was invited to submit his observations.

The applicant submitted his response to the complaint to the Bar Association on 6 October 1997, denying all the allegations and arguing also that the complaints were unspecified.

On 14 November 1997 the Board of Directors of the Bar Association decided to transfer the complaint to the Bar Association Disciplinary Board (kurinpitolautakunta, disciplinnämnden). The decision was communicated to the applicant by sending him a copy of the relevant part of the minutes of the meeting from which it appeared that the Board of Directors had drafted a list of the allegedly defamatory statements included in the notice of appeal. The list was three pages long, consisting of some 30 references to the notice of appeal.

On 13 January 1998 the applicant submitted his further comments to the Disciplinary Board, insisting that J. be told to particularise her complaints.

On 16 January 1998 the observations were communicated to J., who was informed that the correspondence had been terminated and that the Disciplinary Board would examine the matter in its meeting on 13 February 1998 and that she would be informed of the decision. A copy of the letter was also sent to the applicant.

According to the Government, the Disciplinary Board examined the case in two meetings. On 13 February 1998, the examination of the case was postponed and a copy of the minutes was served upon the applicant on 23 March 1998. The Disciplinary Board resumed its examination and decided the case on 30 March 1998. A copy of the record was served upon the applicant on 11 June 1998. When deciding the case, the Disciplinary Board also decided that an abstract of the case, which did not disclose the applicant’s identity, be published in Defensor Legis, the Bar Association’s journal. The wording of the abstract was approved in the Disciplinary Board’s meeting on 13 May 1998 and it was published the same year. The Government admit that some of the information provided to the applicant concerning the proceedings was incorrect.

According to the applicant, he was informed, after inquiry about the state of the proceedings, that the examination of his case had been adjourned until 30 March 1998. After that meeting he was informed that the case was adjourned until the meeting of 13 May 1998. Contrary to the above information however the applicant received, on 12 June 1998, a copy of the Disciplinary Board’s decision, stating that the Board had decided on 30 March 1998 to give him a warning. On 17 June 1998 the applicant was informed by the Bar Association that his case had been decided by the Disciplinary Board on 13 May 1998. Regardless of his inquiries addressed to the Bar Association, the applicant claims that he is still unaware of the date on which the decision was actually made.

The Disciplinary Board’s decision of 30 March 1998 reads:

“The Disciplinary Board of the Finnish Bar Association has examined a complaint made by J. to the Board of Directors concerning attorney A and noted the following:

A has in an appeal to the Court of Appeal together with another person named and criticised the presiding judge J. A has submitted that the reason for his criticism was the fact that the decision which dismissed his claims by one vote  turned on the opinion of the presiding judge. In the lengthy notice of appeal the presiding judge was criticised in, inter alia, the following terms:

J. defends the accused.

J.’s conduct seems goal-directed.

J. began her decision with an unintelligent statement.

J.’s presentation is prejudiced and one-sided.

J. dismissed the charge on artificial grounds and made up one of the grounds all by herself.

J. based her judgment on a fairytale.

J.’s fumblings are naive.

J. manages to deal with one point by changing the contents of the accused’s statement.

J. falsifies the facts.

J. made up grounds for dismissing the charges and the grounds can be described as nit-picking.

J.’s findings are groundless.

J. has at some point of the trial made a predetermined decision to dismiss all the charges and twisted the facts accordingly.

According to the attorney’s code of conduct an attorney is, when appealing against a judgment, not allowed to use belittling expressions of the court or in any other manner subject the court’s work or its decisions to impertinent criticism.

The Disciplinary Board notes that apart from the expressions given as examples above, the notice of appeal as a whole contains belittling and impertinent criticism aimed personally at the presiding judge of the court. In some of the statements cited above J. is referred to as being guilty of lack of judgment, prejudice, falsification of facts and partiality in one party’s favour. If this were to be proven correct, it would mean that J. has abused her office. A has not submitted that he has taken any legal steps in that regard. The Disciplinary Board finds that A has acted in violation of the attorney’s code of conduct.

The Disciplinary Board issues a warning.”

B.  Relevant domestic law

1.  Disciplinary measures

The Finnish Bar Association is a registered entity and its duties are set out in legislation. Apart from protecting the interests of its members, it has certain public duties by virtue of the Advocates Act (laki asianajajista, lagen om advokater 495/1958).

According to section 3 (1) of the Advocates Act, a member of the Association shall, inter alia, be at least 25 years old, have full legal capacity and be honest and suitable for acting as attorney.

Section 6 imposes a duty upon the Board of Directors of the Bar Association to ensure that the attorneys comply with their obligations. By virtue of section 6a (1) disciplinary powers are vested in the Bar Association Disciplinary Board. This body is independent, but any decision to expel a member must, however, be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval. By virtue of section 6 (2) the members of the Board of Directors must act judicially when deciding disciplinary matters against an attorney, as must the members of the Disciplinary Board by virtue of section 6a (3).

Under section 7, the Bar Association has an obligation to take, when necessary, disciplinary measures. Such measures must be taken, if the member has intentionally acted in a wrongful or dishonest manner, neglected his, or her, obligations as an attorney, acted in violation of the attorney’s code of conduct or committed an act which may be harmful to the reputation of the legal profession. The disciplinary measures consist of expulsion, issuing a public warning, a non-public warning or an admonition.

For instance, if the member has acted in violation of the attorney’s code of conduct, he must be issued with an admonition or a warning, or, if the circumstances are grave, be expelled from the Bar Association.

2.  Appeal

An attorney, who has been expelled or given a public warning, has under section 10 (1) of the Advocates Act the right to appeal against the decision to the Court of Appeal of Helsinki, which has full jurisdiction in the case. Under subsection 2, the Chancellor of Justice has the right to appeal against any decisions on disciplinary matters. Thus, the attorney concerned has no appeal against a written warning given by the Disciplinary Board, unless the Board has decided to make the warning public.

The provisions in the Code of Judicial Procedure (oikeudenkäymiskaari, rättegångsbalken) concerning the right to an oral hearing before the Court of Appeal were amended by an act (165/1998) which entered into force on 1 May 1998, i.e. after the Disciplinary Board gave its decision in the present case, but before it was served upon the applicant. By virtue of the entry into force and the transitional provisions the new provisions apply to a case that after their entry into force become pending before the Court of Appeal as the court of first instance.

According to the new provisions in the Code of Judicial Procedure, inter alia, chapter 26, section 14, an oral hearing shall be held in the Court of Appeal, if a party to a civil case or the injured party or the defendant in a criminal case so requests. However, such a hearing need not be held for the reasons mentioned above if, inter alia, the holding of a hearing is manifestly unnecessary.

Under the previous law the Court of Appeal could hold an oral hearing if it considered it necessary. The reservation made by Finland in accordance with Article 64 (now 57) of the Convention, according to which Finland cannot guarantee a right to an oral hearing insofar as the Finnish laws do not provide for such a right, concerned the courts of appeal until the entry into force of the amendment of 1 May 1998.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complains that the disciplinary proceedings against him which led to a written warning violated the principle of fair trial as guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention as he was hindered from properly defending himself without an oral hearing, and as there was no appeal against the relevant decision which lacked reasoning. He was also given contradictory information as to the date of the decision.

2.  The applicant also complains, under Article 10 of the Convention, that his right to freedom of expression was unreasonably and arbitrarily interfered with as he was punished for criticising a court decision in a notice of appeal to a higher tribunal.

3.  Moreover, the applicant complains, under Article 13 of the Convention, about the lack of an effective remedy as there is no appeal against a disciplinary decision to give a written warning.

THE LAW

The applicant complains about the proceedings before the Disciplinary Board, the fact that there was no appeal and that he was issued a warning for having criticised a court decision. He invokes Articles 6, 10 and 13 of the Convention.

A.  Article 35 § 1 of the Convention

The Government allege that the applicant has failed to exhaust domestic remedies as required by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention in that he did not request the Chancellor of Justice to appeal against the Disciplinary Board’s decision to the Court of Appeal. The Government point out that the Chancellor of Justice does not have a role as an opposing party in disciplinary proceedings, but he may, however, request that the Board of Directors of the Bar Association take measures in cases of suspected violation of the attorneys’ code of conduct. The Chancellor of Justice has the right to appeal against all decisions of the Disciplinary Board and he may also lodge an appeal in favour of the attorney concerned in the decision.

The applicant argues that no effective remedy existed for the purposes of Article 35 § 1. Under domestic law there was no appeal available to him as he had been given only a non-public warning. The right to appeal should belong to the party involved. He points out that the Chancellor of Justice has the right to initiate disciplinary proceedings against an attorney and thus acts as the opposing party to the attorney in question.

The Court notes that applicants must normally be able to initiate appeal procedures directly and not be dependent on the favourable intervention of a public official. An avenue of redress, if it is to be regarded as effective, must be exercisable by the party involved. The Court is satisfied that a request to the Chancellor of Justice to appeal the decision would not have furnished an effective remedy as the remedy was not available directly to the applicant and therefore did not correspond with the notion of an effective remedy. The Court concludes that no such remedy was available in the present case.

Consequently, the Court rejects the Government’s arguments and finds that the applicant has not failed to comply with Article 35 § 1.

B.  Article 6 § 1 of the Convention

1.  The applicant complains under Article 6 of the Convention that he did not receive a fair trial as he was hindered from properly defending himself without an oral hearing, and as there was no appeal against the decision which was not duly reasoned or clearly dated.

Article 6 § 1 provides, as relevant:

“ 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 Government claim that Article 6 is not applicable to the proceeding as the non-public warning did not even temporarily suspend the applicant’s right to exercise his profession and thus did not concern his civil rights citing Gautrin and Others v. France (judgment of 20 May 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-III, p. 1022, § 33). They point out that even though the Bar Association may expel a member as a disciplinary measure, this does not prevent the person from acting as legal counsel in court proceedings or from practicing law in other fields. The Bar Association’s members do not enjoy a monopoly as to these activities or enjoy, by law, the right to charge higher fees. When a member of the Bar Association is expelled, he or she is only removed from the list of attorneys. The situation was different in the case of Johann Fontanesi v. Austria (decision of 8 February 2000, application no. 30192/96), where an interlocutory measure withdrew the applicant’s right of representation before specific courts, and thus suspended temporarily part of his right to exercise his profession.

Assuming that Article 6 applies, the Government point out that the applicant did not request that any oral hearing be held and must therefore be considered to have waived any right to a hearing. An attorney is provided with an opportunity to be heard in person in particular in cases where he, or she, may be given a public warning, or is under a threat of expulsion. The applicant had the opportunity to submit written observations twice. The present case concerned merely whether the applicant had used inappropriate language when criticising the District Court’s judgment. As the case was not in any way unclear as to the facts or law, no oral hearing was needed.

The applicant argues that the proceedings concerned his “civil rights”. He refers to the Court’s case-law H. v Belgium (judgment of 30 November 1987, Series A no. 127-B) and De Moor v. Belgium (judgment of 23 June 1994, Series A no. 292-A). He contests the Government’s argument that Article 6 does not apply due to the fact that he was given a mere warning and was not expelled from the Bar Association. He argues that the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings was not known when they were initiated and the Disciplinary Board did not indicate what kind of sanction it was going to impose.

The applicant submits that the vast majority of lawyers appearing before Finnish courts are members of the Bar Association, in which membership is considered a matter of trust and honour and, consequently, members are able to charge higher fees. The applicant argues that nothing prevented the Disciplinary Board from informing him that he was entitled to obtain further information about the proceedings or that he was entitled to give oral evidence or hear J. before the Disciplinary Board.

The Court recalls that an application for membership in a Bar Association has previously been found to concern an applicant’s “civil rights” within the meaning of Article 6 (De Moor, cited above), as did an application concerning reinstatement as member in the Bar Association after having been struck off the Bar roll (H. v. Belgium, cited above).

The present application, however, concerns disciplinary proceedings. The Court’s case-law indicates that disciplinary proceedings in which the right to continue to exercise a profession is at stake give rise to “contestations” (disputes) over civil rights and obligations (see Gautrin and Others, cited above). It is apparent that during the proceedings in issue in this case the applicant was at risk of being prevented from continuing to exercise his profession as a member of the Bar Association, if the penalty of expulsion had been applied.

The Court recalls that Article 6 applies only to proceedings concerning “determination” of a “civil right”. The outcome of the proceedings must, in principle, be directly decisive for the right in question (see among other authorities the following judgments: Acquaviva v. France, 21 November 1995, Series A no. 333-A, p. 14, § 46; Le Calvez v. France, 29 July 1998, Reports 1998-V, pp. 1899-900, § 56, and Athanassoglou and Others v. Switzerland [GC], no. 27644/95, § 43, ECHR 2000-IV). As the Court has consistently held, mere tenuous connections or remote consequences are not sufficient to bring Article 6 § 1 into play (see the following judgments: Le Compte, Van Leuven and De Meyere v. Belgium, 23 June 1981, Series A no. 43, p. 21, § 47, and Masson and Van Zon v. the Netherlands, 28 September 1995, Series A no. 327-A, p. 17, § 44).

However, for the applicability of Article 6 not only the concrete outcome of the proceedings is of importance. The Court reiterates that it is clear from its settled case-law that disciplinary proceedings in which, as in the instant case, the right to continue to practise a profession is at stake give rise to litigation over “civil rights” within the meaning of Article 6 § 1. The procedural guarantees of Article 6 § 1 apply to all litigants falling into this category and not only those who have not avoided a sanction interfering with their right to continue practising their profession (see mutatis mutandis, Philis v. Greece (no. 2), judgment of 27 June 1997, Reports 1997-IV, p. 1085, § 45).

In the present case, the applicant was issued a mere warning. No measure withdrawing or affecting his right to exercise his profession was imposed. Nor was the warning made public or any financial consequences shown to have flowed from the warning. Thus, the concrete outcome of the proceedings was not directly decisive for the applicant’s right to continue to exercise his profession. However, it is undisputed that, when the proceedings were started, expulsion from the bar was not impossible. In other words, what was at stake was the applicant’s right to continue to exercise his profession as a member of the bar. The Court therefore assumes that Article 6 is applicable.

Even so, it does not follow that Article 6 has been violated because of the lack of an oral hearing before the Disciplinary Board or the impossibility of appealing against the warning imposed by the Board. It was at the outset clear that in the case of a sanction involving a public warning or disbarment of the applicant he could have appealed to the Court of Appeal. As the Court of Appeal is a judicial body with full jurisdiction before which a party has, as a rule, a right to an oral hearing, the Court considers that the right of appeal to that court is, in principle, sufficient to fulfil the requirements of Article 6 in a case like the present one (see Albert and Le Compte v. Belgium, judgment of 10 February 1983, Series A no. 58, p. 16, § 29, and, a contrario, Diennet v. France, judgment of 26 September 1995, Series A no. 325-A, p. 15, § 34). The Court notes that the amendment of the Code of Judicial Procedure providing for the right to an oral hearing was in force when the Disciplinary Board’s decision was served upon the applicant.

Insofar as it might be argued that the holding of hearings before courts of appeal was more discretionary at the time of the commencement of the disciplinary proceedings in the present case, the Court recalls the Finnish reservation to the Convention, which has been found valid (see Helle v. Finland, judgment of 19 December 1997, Reports 1997-VIII, p. 2925, § 44, and TH-tekniikka Oy:n konkurssipesä v. Finland (dec.), no. 35897/97, 28 September 1999) and which exempted the reserving State from the obligation to hold hearings, inter alia, before courts of appeal (see above relevant domestic law).

In view of the above, there is no appearance of a violation of Article 6.

It follows that the complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

2.  In his reply of 8 April 2002 to the Government’s observations the applicant complains, under Article 6 of the Convention, that the Disciplinary Board is not an independent and impartial tribunal within the meaning of Article 6 and that all minimum requirements set for a fair trial were allegedly lacking in the present case.

The Court notes that the final decision in respect of these matters was the Bar Association Disciplinary Board’s decision of 30 March 1998, which was notified to the applicant at the latest on 12 June 1998. These aspects were not specified in the application form or put to the Government,  but only raised for the first time in the observations in reply on 8 April 2002, outside the six month time-limit imposed by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention. Even assuming that a separate issue arises under this heading, it follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 § 4.

C.  Article 10 of the Convention

The applicant also complains under Article 10 of the Convention that the disciplinary measures, imposed on him due to statements made in his professional capacity during judicial proceedings, interfered arbitrarily and unreasonably with his freedom of expression.

Article 10 provides as relevant:

“1.  Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to ... impart information and ideas without interference by public authority ...

2.  The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The applicant argues that the notice of appeal should not have been brought to the notice of J. or of any other outsiders, as it had been addressed to the Court of Appeal, which did not comment on the contents or the language. He argues that the right of appeal should not be encroached upon or in any other way restricted by having a District Court Judge and the Bar Association Disciplinary Board examine a notice of appeal with a view to imposing disciplinary measures on the appealing party’s attorney. Although the criticism was harsh and severe, he gave specific reasons for it and the language was, in his view, in no way offensive. Having regard to his duties as counsel, his accusations against the District Court should be regarded as part of appeal procedure before the Court of Appeal. He submits that he criticised the judgment, not the judge in person.

The Court acknowledges that the impugned measure constituted an interference with the exercise of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression. Such interference will not, however, contravene the Convention provided the conditions laid down in Article 10 § 2 are fulfilled, namely the interference must be prescribed by law, be necessary in a democratic society and have a legitimate aim.

In this case, the interference was “prescribed by law”, namely section 7 of the Advocates Act, and the Court considers that it pursued the legitimate aim of protecting “the reputation or rights of others” and the “authority of the judiciary”. The question is whether the interference was “necessary in a democratic society”.

According to the Court’s well-established case-law, the test of “necessity in a democratic society” requires the Court to determine whether the interference was proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and whether the reasons given by the national authorities to justify it are relevant and sufficient (see The Sunday Times v. the United Kingdom (no. 1), judgment of 26 April 1979, Series A no. 30, p. 38, § 62).

While freedom of expression is secured to lawyers, who are certainly entitled to comment on the administration of justice, their criticism must not overstep certain bounds. In that connection, account must be taken of the need to strike the right balance between, inter alia, the various interests involved, which include the interests of the parties, the requirements of the proper administration of justice and the dignity of the legal profession. Because of their direct and continuous contact with their members, the Bar authorities and a country’s courts are in a better position than an international court to determine how, at a given time, the right balance can be struck. This is why they have a certain margin of appreciation in assessing the necessity of an interference in this area, although this margin is subject to European supervision as regards both the relevant rules and the decisions applying them (see Schöpfer v. Switzerland, judgment of 20 May 1998, Reports 1998-III, pp. 1053-54, § 33 with further references).

In the present case, the Finnish Bar Association Disciplinary Board found that several statements made by the applicant in a written appeal against the District Court’s judgment were of a disparaging nature as concerned the presiding judge, J., and therefore in breach of the attorney’s code of conduct.

The Court finds that the reasons advanced by the Disciplinary Board were relevant to the legitimate aim pursued, namely protecting the reputation of J. and maintaining the authority of the judiciary.

The Court reiterates that the special status of lawyers gives them a central position in the administration of justice as intermediaries between the public and the courts. This position explains the usual restrictions on the conduct of members of the Bar (see Casado Coca v. Spain, judgment of 24 February 1994, Series A no. 285-A, p. 21, § 54).

The Court notes that the present case bears similarities with Meister v. Germany, where counsel had made insulting statements about judges and other persons whom he regarded as having decided or acted incorrectly in the context of, or in relation to, court proceedings (no. 25157/94 and no. 30549/96, Commission decisions of 18 October 1995 and 10 April 1997, respectively, unreported), with W.R. v. Austria, where counsel had described the opinion of a judge as “ridiculous” (no. 26602/95, Commission decision of 30 June 1997, unreported) and Mahler v. Germany, where counsel had stated at the trial that the prosecutor had drafted the bill of indictment “in a state of complete intoxication” (no. 29045/95, Commission decision of 14 January 1998, unreported). In the present case the impugned statements were not only a criticism of the reasoning in the judgment, but further, as found by the Disciplinary Board, amounted to an accusation of abuse of office by a particular judge framed in belittling and impertinent terms. There is nothing to suggest that the applicant could not have raised the substance of his criticism of the reasoning in the decision without using the impugned language (see, mutatis mutandis, Steur v. the Netherlands, no. 39657/98, judgment of 28 October 2003, where the applicant lawyer’s criticism of a police officer in court did not amount to a personal insult and was strictly limited to the officer’s actions relevant to his client’s case as distinct from criticism of his general professional or other qualities).

Furthermore, in assessing the proportionality of the interference, the nature and severity of the penalties imposed are also factors to be taken into account (see Ceylan v. Turkey [GC], no. 23556/94, § 37, ECHR 1999-IV). In this respect, the Court notes that the applicant was merely issued a warning, which was not made public nor had any consequences on his right to exercise his profession. The present case can be distinguished from the case of Nikula v. Finland (no. 31611/96, ECHR 2002-II) in which a criminal sanction, albeit a lenient one, was imposed on the applicant.

Having regard to the foregoing, the Court considers that the warning issued against the applicant was not disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and that the reasons advanced by the Disciplinary Board were sufficient and relevant to justify such interference. The latter could thus reasonably be considered necessary in a democratic society to protect the reputation or rights of others and to protect the judiciary within the meaning of Article 10 § 2.

It follows that the complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

D.  Article 13 of the Convention

Finally, the applicant complains under Article 13 of the Convention about the lack of an effective remedy as there was no right to appeal against the disciplinary decision.

Article 13 provides:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

According to the Court’s case-law, Article 13 applies only where an individual has an “arguable claim” to be the victim of a violation of a Convention right (see Boyle and Rice v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 27 April 1988, Series A no. 131, § 52).

The Court has found that the applicant’s complaints under Articles 6 and 10 are manifestly ill-founded. It follows that the applicant does not have an “arguable claim” and his complaints do not attract the guarantees of Article 13.

This part of the application must also be rejected as manifestly ill-founded pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Georg RESS 
 Registrar President

To be checked.


A. v. FINLAND DECISION


A. v. FINLAND DECISION