FOURTH SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 62617/00 
by Lynette COPLAND 
against the United Kingdom

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 7 March 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr J. Casadevall, President
 Sir Nicolas Bratza
 Mr G. Bonello
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr S. Pavlovschi
 Mr L. Garlicki, 
 Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges
and  Mrs F. Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 May 2000,

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, Ms Lynette Copland, is a United Kingdom national, who was born in 1950 and lives in Llanelli, Wales. She is represented before the Court by Mrs N. Collins and latterly Mr James Welch of Liberty, a non-governmental civil rights organisation based in London.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

In 1991 the applicant was employed by Carmarthenshire College (“the College”). The College is a statutory body administered by the State and possessing powers under sections 18 and 19 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 relating to the provision of further and higher education.

In 1995 the applicant became the personal assistant to the College Principal (“CP”) and from the end of 1995 she was required to work closely with the newly appointed Deputy Principal (“DP”). She found him difficult to work with and claims that he was bullying and intimidating.

In about July 1998, whilst on annual leave, the applicant visited another campus of the College with a male director. She subsequently became aware that the DP had contacted that campus to enquire about her visit and understood that he was suggesting an improper relationship between her and the director.

During her employment, the applicant’s telephone, e-mail and internet usage were subjected to monitoring at the DP’s instigation. According to the Government, this monitoring took place in order to ascertain whether the applicant was making excessive use of College facilities for personal purposes. The Government state that the monitoring of telephone usage consisted of analysis of the college telephone bills showing telephone numbers called, the dates and times of the calls and their length and cost. The applicant also believes that there had been detailed and comprehensive logging of the length of calls, the number of calls received and made and the telephone numbers of individuals calling the applicant. The applicant states that on at least one occasion the DP became aware of the name of an individual with whom she had exchanged incoming and outgoing telephone calls. The Government submit that the monitoring of telephone usage took place for a few months up to about 22 November 1999. The applicant contends that her telephone usage was monitored over a period of about 18 months until November 1999.

In addition, the applicant’s internet usage was monitored by the DP. The Government accept that this monitoring took the form of analysing the web sites visited, the times and dates of the visits to the web sites and their duration and that this monitoring took place from October to November 1999. The applicant does not comment on the manner in which her internet usage was monitored but submits that it took place over a much longer period of time than the Government admit.

In November 1999 the applicant became aware that enquiries were being made into her use of e-mail at work when the applicant’s step-daughter was contacted by the College and asked to supply information about e-mails that she had sent to the College. The applicant wrote to the CP to ask whether there was a general investigation taking place or whether her e-mails only were being investigated. By an e-mail dated 24 November 1999 the CP advised the applicant that, whilst all e-mail activity was logged, the information department of the College was investigating only her e-mails, following a request by the DP. The Government submit that monitoring of e-mails took the form of analysis of e-mail addresses and dates and times at which e-mails were sent and that the monitoring occurred for a few months prior to 22 November 1999. The applicant’s submission is that monitoring of e-mails occurred for at least six months from May 1999 to November 1999. She provides documentary evidence in the form of printouts detailing her e-mail usage from 14 May 1999 to 22 November 1999 which set out the date and time of e-mails sent from her e-mail account together with the recipients’ e-mail addresses.

By a memorandum dated 29 November 1999 the CP wrote to the DP to confirm the contents of a conversation they had had in the following terms:

To avoid ambiguity I felt it worthwhile to confirm my views expressed to you last week, regarding the investigation of [the applicant’s] e-mail traffic.

Subsequent to [the applicant] becoming aware that someone from [the College] had been following up her e-mails, I spoke to [ST] who confirmed that this was true and had been instigated by yourself. Given the forthcoming legislation making it illegal for organisations to examine someone’s e-mail without permission, I naturally felt concerned over recent events and instructed [ST] not to carry out any further analysis. Furthermore, I asked you to do likewise and asked that any information you have of concern regarding [the applicant] be forwarded to me as a matter of priority. You indicated that you would respond positively to both requests, whilst re-affirming your concerns regarding [the applicant].”

There was no policy in force at the College at the material time regarding the monitoring of telephone, e-mail or internet use by employees.

In about March or April 2000 the applicant was informed by other members of staff at the College that between 1996 and late 1999 various of her activities had been monitored by the DP or those acting on his behalf. The applicant also believed that people to whom she had made calls were in turn telephoned by the DP, or those acting on his behalf, to identify the callers and the purpose of the call. She further believes that the DP became aware of a legally privileged fax that was sent by the applicant to her solicitors and that her personal movements, both in work and when on annual or sick leave, were the subject of surveillance.

By a memorandum dated 23 May 2000 to the CP, the applicant lodged a formal complaint of harassment by the DP. She was aware that the DP had made allegations in writing against her to the Chair of the Board of Governors and she requested a copy of that letter and of all other relevant documents and information concerning the monitoring of her use of the telephone, internet and e-mail. By memorandum dated 15 June 2000 the CP indicated that he would need far more details concerning the individual incidents of harassment of which the applicant complained. As to the Board of Governors, the CP indicated that the matter was “being dealt with comprehensively and I would only be able to consider providing you with further information on this when and if it is appropriate”. No such details were ever provided to her.

The applicant has provided the Court with statements from other members of staff who complain about the behaviour of the DP, mainly concerning harassment but also including allegations of inappropriate and intrusive monitoring of their movements. The applicant, who is still employed by the College, understands that the DP has been suspended.

B.  Relevant domestic law and practice

1.  Law of privacy

At the relevant time there was no general right to privacy in English law.

Since the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998 on 2 October 2000, the courts have been required to read and give effect to primary legislation in a manner which is compatible with Convention rights so far as possible. The Act also makes it unlawful for any public authority, including a court, to act in a manner which is incompatible with a Convention right unless required to do so by primary legislation, thus providing for the development of the common law in accordance with Convention rights. Recently, in the case of Douglas v Hello! Ltd ([2001] 1 WLR 992), Sedley LJ indicated that he was prepared to find that there was a qualified right to privacy under English law, but the Court of Appeal did not rule on the point.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (“the 2000 Act”) provides for the regulation of, inter alia, interception of communications. The Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) Regulations 2000 were promulgated under the 2000 Act and came into force on 24 October 2000. The Regulations set out the circumstances in which employers can record or monitor employees’ communications (such as e-mail or telephone) without the consent of either the employee or the other party to the communication. Employers are required to take reasonable steps to inform employees that their communications might be intercepted.

2.  Contractual damages for breach of trust and confidence by employer

The House of Lords in Malik v Bank of Credit and Commerce International SA [1997] IRLR 462 confirmed that, as a matter of law, a general term is implied into each employment contract that an employer will not “without reasonable and proper cause, conduct itself in a manner calculated and likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trust between employer and employee”. In Malik, the House of Lords was concerned with the award of so-called “stigma compensation” where an ex-employee is unable to find further employment due to association with a dishonest former employer. In considering the damages that could be awarded for breach of the obligation of trust and confidence, the House were solely concerned with the payment of compensation for financial loss resulting from handicap in the labour market. Lord Nicholls expressly noted that, “(f)or the present purposes I am not concerned with the exclusion of damages for injured feelings, the present case is concerned only with financial loss.”

In limiting the scope of the implied term of trust and confidence in Malik, Lord Steyn stated as follows:

“the implied mutual obligation of trust and confidence applies only where there is ‘no reasonable and proper cause’ for the employer’s conduct, and then only if the conduct is calculated to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence. That circumscribes the potential reach and scope of the implied obligation.”

3.  Tort of misfeasance in public office

The tort of misfeasance in public office arises when a public official has either (a) exercised his power specifically intending to injure the plaintiff, or (b) acted in the knowledge of, or with reckless indifference to, the illegality of his act and in the knowledge or with reckless indifference to the probability of causing injury to the claimant or a class of people of which the claimant is a member (Three Rivers D.C. v. Bank of England (No.3) (HL) [2000] WLR 1220).

4.  Data Protection Act 1984

At the time of the acts complained of by the applicant, the Data Protection Act 1984 (“DPA”) regulated the manner in which people and organisations that held data, known as “data holders”, processed or used that data. It provided certain actionable remedies to individuals in the event of misuse of their personal data. The DPA has now been replaced by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Section 1 of the DPA defined its terms as follows:

“(2) ‘Data’ means information recorded in a form in which it can be processed by equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose.

(3) ‘Personal data’ means data consisting of information which related to a living individual who can be identified from that information (or from that and other information in the possession of the data user...)

(4) ‘Data subject’ means an individual who is the subject of personal data.

(5) ‘Data user’ means a person who holds data, and a person ‘holds’ data if –

(a) the data form part of a collection of data processed or intended to be processed by or on behalf of that person as mentioned in subsection (2) above; and

(b) that person... controls the contents and use of the data comprised in the collection; and

(c) the data are in the form in which they have been or are intended to be processed as mentioned in paragraph (a)...

(7) ‘Processing’ in relation to data means amending, augmenting, deleting or re-arranging the data or extracting the information constituting the data and, in the case of personal data, means performing any of these operations by reference to the data subject.

(9) ‘Disclosing’ in relation to data, includes disclosing information extracted from the data ...”

The “data protection principles” to be respected by data holders were set out in Part 1 to Schedule 1 of the Act as follows:

“1. The information to be contained in personal data shall be obtained, and personal data shall be processed, fairly and lawfully.

2. Personal data shall be held only for one or more specified and lawful purposes ...

4. Personal data held for any purpose shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to that purpose or those purposes.”

Section 23 of the DPA provided rights to compensation for the data subject in the event of unauthorised disclosure of personal data:

“ (1) An individual who is the subject of personal data held by a data user...and who suffers damage by reason of -

(c) ...the disclosure of the data or, access having been obtained to the data, without such authority as aforesaid,

shall be entitled to compensation from the data user...for that damage and for any distress which the individual has suffered by reason of the...disclosure or access.”

The DPA also created the position of Data Protection Registrar, under a duty to promote the observance of the data protection principles by data users. In section 10 it created a criminal offence as follows:

“(1) If the Registrar is satisfied that a registered person has contravened or is contravening any of the data protection principles he may serve him with a notice (‘an enforcement notice’) requiring him to take ... such steps as are so specified for complying with the principle or principles in question.

(2) In deciding whether to serve an enforcement notice, the Registrar shall consider whether the contravention has caused or is likely to cause any person damage or distress.

...

(9) Any person who fails to comply with an enforcement notice shall be guilty of an offence... “

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complains under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention about the monitoring by the College of her activities (use of the telephone, of e-mails and of the internet, and of her movements) and about harassment (including bullying) by employees of the College.

She further complains under Article 6 § 1 that she did not have access to a court to pursue a claim against her employer about the alleged monitoring and harassment and under Article 13 that she had no effective domestic remedy for the violations of Articles 3 and 8.

THE LAW

A.  Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies

The Government submit that the applicant has failed to exhaust domestic remedies as required by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention as she has not pursued any of the available remedies in the domestic courts. The Government argue that she could have brought a damages claim for breach of contract or applied for an injunction to prevent further monitoring from taking place. Alternatively she could have brought an action in tort for misfeasance in public office. Statutory remedies also existed under the Data Protection Act 1984 (“DPA”). The Government contend that these remedies were accessible, capable of providing redress for the applicant’s complaints and offered reasonable prospects of success.

The Court recalls that the purpose of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention is to afford the Contracting State the opportunity of preventing or putting right the violations alleged against it before those allegations are submitted to the Court. Consequently, States are dispensed from answering for their acts before an international body before they have had the opportunity to put matters right through their own legal systems (see eg Remli v. France, judgment of 23 April 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-II and Selmouni v. France [GC], no. 25803/94, § 74, ECHR 1999-V).

Under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention normal recourse should be had by an applicant to remedies which are available and sufficient to afford redress in respect of the breaches alleged. The existence of the remedies in question must be sufficiently certain not only in theory but in practice, failing which they will lack the requisite accessibility and effectiveness (see, among other authorities, the Akdivar and Others v. Turkey judgment of 16 September 1996, Reports 1996 -IV, § 66).

Furthermore, the Court recalls that in the area of exhaustion of domestic remedies the burden of proof is on the Government to satisfy the Court that the remedy was an effective one, available in theory and in practice at the relevant time, that is to say, that it was accessible, was one which was capable of providing redress in respect of the applicant’s complaints and offered reasonable prospects of success. Once this burden of proof is satisfied, it falls to the applicant to show that the remedy advanced by the Government was in fact exhausted, or was for some reason inadequate and ineffective in the particular circumstances of the case, or that there existed special circumstances absolving him or her from the requirement (see, for example, the Akdivar, § 68 and Selmouni, § 76).

The Court must therefore examine each of the remedies proposed by the Government to determine whether any would have been effective to remedy the applicant’s complaints about harassment and monitoring.

1. Breach of contract

The Government submit that the applicant could have brought a claim in breach of contract against the College based on the monitoring of her telephone, e-mail and internet usage. Following the House of Lords’ judgment in Malik (see above), it was open to her to argue that the College had breached the implied obligation of trust and confidence under her employment contract. The applicant should have claimed damages for breach of that implied term or sought an injunction to prevent the College from repeating the impugned conduct. The bullying and harassment complained of by the applicant could also amount to conduct likely seriously to damage the mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee and the applicant should have pursued such a remedy in the domestic courts.

The applicant argues that damages would not have been an adequate remedy for past surveillance. In particular, she contends that her primary concern as a victim of covert surveillance was to ensure that there were proper regulations in place governing whether and when such surveillance could be carried out. In any event, she would not have been able to recover more than nominal damages as she had suffered no financial loss. An injunction would be an ineffective remedy for covert surveillance and since the College had indicated that the conduct would not reoccur after November 1999, no English court would grant an injunction as it would not be sufficiently persuaded that there was a risk of repetition.

The Court is not satisfied that it is settled in the law of England and Wales that the covert monitoring of correspondence would amount to a breach of an implied term in an employment contract. It notes that the House of Lords in Malik were solely concerned with the issue of financial loss resulting from the stigma of association with a corrupt and dishonest employer whereas in the present case the applicant did not suffer financial loss as a result of the conduct of the College. The Court further notes that the purpose of an injunction would be to prevent future monitoring activities rather than to provide a remedy for past surveillance.

The Court considers it possible that adequate remedies for the bullying and harassment complaints did exist. However, in light of its finding below that these complaints are manifestly ill-founded, it is unnecessary to consider the Government’s submissions on this point.

The Government have not therefore established that a remedy in contract was more than merely theoretical. Accordingly the Government have failed to discharge the burden of proving that a contractual remedy could have provided adequate redress for the applicant’s complaints.

2. Claim in tort

The Government submit that the applicant had a remedy in the tort of misfeasance in public office. The court could award damages or grant an injunction and the applicant could have made a claim whilst still in employment.

The applicant argues that she had no prospect of proving the requisite elements of the tort. She would not have been able to show that the DP acted with intent to cause her injury or in the knowledge that he had no power to act as he did, nor is it the essence of her claim before the Court that either of these mental elements was present. In order to recover more than nominal damages, she would have needed to demonstrate financial loss or a recognised psychiatric illness, neither of which she has suffered as a result of the DP’s acts.

The Court accepts the applicant’s arguments about the essence of her case. Moreover, the Government contend, on the merits, that the DP acted within his statutory powers when carrying out the monitoring, for the legitimate aim of protecting public funds. There is no indication in the circumstances of the case that the applicant would have succeeded in proving the requisite elements of the tort, namely intention to cause injury and deliberate misuse of power.

3. Data Protection Act 1984

The Government argue that it was open to the applicant to make a claim for compensation under the Data Protection Act 1984 (DPA). Section 23 of the Act allows for compensation for any damage suffered by reason of the disclosure of, or the obtaining of access to, data without the authority of the data user (see section on Relevant Domestic Law above). Compensation can be awarded both for damage suffered and for any distress. There was further a power under section 10 of the Act for the Data Protection Registrar to issue the College with an enforcement notice requiring compliance with the statutory data protection principles, including the fair and lawful processing of data for specific purposes.

The applicant argues that a claim for compensation under the DPA would have had no prospect of success since the data user for the purposes of the DPA was the College and there had been no disclosure or access to the data without the authority of the College. In any event, the applicant would not have been able to recover substantial damages as the DPA requires financial loss to be proved before damages can be recovered for distress. Alternatively, she argues that the Government have not demonstrated through case law that awards under section 23 are fully compensatory. Finally, she argues that the possible grant of an enforcement order was not an effective remedy as she was not entitled to issue such a notice herself, nor could she have compelled the registrar to issue such a notice.

The Court considers that the Government have failed to show that the applicant’s case would have fallen within the ambit of section 23 of the DPA. In particular the right to compensation under the Act arises where there has been disclosure or the obtaining of access to personal data without the authority of the data user, which is the College in this case. The Government have failed to present evidence that on the facts of the case, there has been disclosure of or the obtaining of access to personal data such as to give rise to an arguable claim for compensation under the DPA.

With respect to the power of the Registrar to issue an enforcement notice, the Court considers that the applicant had no direct right under the DPA to have an enforcement order issued. Moreover, the applicant would have no remedy for breach of the enforcement order as the DPA only provided for criminal sanctions in the event of breach (DPA section10(9), see above). In any event, an order requiring the College to observe data protection principles in the future would have been an insufficient remedy for allegations of past surveillance.

4. Conclusion

Accordingly the Court finds that the suggested remedies would have been inadequate and ineffective in the circumstances. The applicant was not, therefore, obliged to pursue any of them for the purposes of Article 35 § 1.

The Court further notes that the case involves facts occurring prior to the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998 and it was not open to the applicant to rely on, or the domestic courts to examine, the issues under Article 8 of the Convention. Accordingly, the Government’s preliminary objection about non-exhaustion of domestic remedies is rejected.

B.  Time Limits

The Government contend that, even assuming that the application is not inadmissible for failure to exhaust domestic remedies, the applicant has failed to comply with the requirement under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention to lodge her claim within the six month time-limit.

The applicant points out that she first became aware that her e-mail correspondence was being monitored on 24 November 1999 when she received an e-mail to that effect from the Principal of the College. She introduced her application to the court on 23 May 2000 and is therefore within the six month time limit.

The Court notes that where there are no domestic remedies to exhaust, the six month period for the purposes of Article 35 can only begin to run from the moment that the applicant learns of the act or decision of the public authority of which he or she complains (Hilton v. United Kingdom, 12015/86, Commission decision of 6 July 1988, Decisions and Reports 57, p. 108). Accordingly, the relevant date for calculating the six month period is the date on which the applicant was notified by the College that her e-mails were being monitored, that is, 24 November 1999. The Court therefore dismisses the Government’s objection on this point.

C. Article 3 alone and in conjunction with Article 13

The applicant argues that the treatment accorded to her by the College has humiliated and debased her, and showed a lack of respect for her human dignity. Accordingly she contends that the treatment can be characterised as degrading and falls within the prohibition of Article 3.

The Government argue that the complaint is manifestly ill-founded as the treatment suffered by the applicant did not reach the minimum level of severity to constitute a breach of Article 3. The act of analysing information was carried out over a short period of time and for the purposes of ensuring that facilities were not used for personal purposes. Additionally, there is no evidence that the applicant suffered any injury to her mental or physical wellbeing.

The Court recalls that to fall within the scope of Article 3, ill treatment must attain a minimum level of severity and involve actual bodily injury or intense physical or mental suffering (Pretty v. the United Kingdom, no. 2346/02, § 52, ECHR 2002-III) The applicant has failed to show that she was subjected to any treatment which was sufficiently serious as to fall within the scope of Article 3 of the Convention. Accordingly, it finds the applicant’s complaints in relation to Article 3 and Article 3 in conjunction with Article 13 to be manifestly-ill-founded and inadmissible pursuant to Article 35 of the Convention.

D. Article 6 § 1 of the Convention

The applicant complains that she was denied access to a court to pursue a remedy against her employers in violation of Article 6 § 1.

The Government contend that there is no basis for a finding that analysis of telephone, e-mail and internet usage to determine if there has been excessive use for personal purposes involves a determination of a civil right for the purposes of Article 6 of the Convention.

The Court notes that the applicant clearly accepts that there is no general right to privacy in domestic law; this constitutes the essence of her complaints under Article 8 and 13. The complaint under Article 6 is therefore inadmissible as incompatible ratione materiae because there was, at the relevant time, no “civil right” the determination of which would fall within the scope of Article 6 (see eg D.P. and J.C. v. the United Kingdom, no. 38719/97, § 123, 10 October 2002).

E. Article 8 alone and in conjunction with Article 13

1. The parties’ submissions

a. The Government

The Government accept that the College is a public body for whose actions the State is directly responsible for the purposes of the Convention, and contend that, as a result, the issue of whether Article 8 imposed positive obligations on the Government does not arise. Although there was some monitoring of the applicant’s telephone calls, e-mails and internet usage prior to November 1999, this did not extend to the interception of telephone calls or the analysis of the content of websites visited by the applicant. The monitoring thus amounted to nothing more than the analysis of automatically generated information to determine whether College facilities had been used for personal purposes which, of itself, did not constitute a failure to respect private life or correspondence. The case of P.G. and J.H. v. the United Kingdom, no. 44787/98, ECHR 2001-IX, can be distinguished as it is a case where actual interception of telephone calls occurred. There are also significant differences from the case of Halford v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 25 June 1997, Reports 1997-III, where the applicant’s telephone calls were intercepted on a telephone which had been designated for private use and for the purpose of her litigation.

In the event that the analysis of records of telephone, e-mail and internet use is considered to amount to an interference with the respect for private life or correspondence, the Government contend that the interference was justified. First, it pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the rights and freedoms of others by ensuring that the facilities provided by a publicly funded employer were not unduly abused. Secondly, the interference had a basis in domestic law in that the College, as a statutory body, had the power to take reasonable control of its facilities to ensure that it was able to carry out its statutory functions. It was reasonably foreseeable that the facilities provided by a statutory body out of public funds could not be used excessively for personal purposes and that the College would undertake an analysis of its records to determine if there was any likelihood of personal use which needed to be investigated. In this respect, the situation is analogous to that in Peck v. the United Kingdom, no. 44647/98, ECHR 2003-I. Finally, the acts were necessary in a democratic society and were proportionate as any interference went no further than necessary to establish whether there had been such excessive personal use of facilities as to merit investigation.

The Government deny that the applicant’s allegations of harassment and bullying have any basis in fact and in any case argue that they do not amount to a failure to respect the applicant’s private life or correspondence.

In relation to the applicant’s complaint under Article 13, the Government contend that the applicant did have effective remedies in the domestic court for all her complaints under Article 8 under statute and the private law of tort and contract as outlined in the section on exhaustion of domestic remedies.

b. The applicant

The applicant does not accept that her e-mails were not read and that her telephone calls were not intercepted but contends that, even if the facts were as set out by the Government, it is plain that some monitoring activity took place amounting to an interference with her right to respect for private life and correspondence under Article 8.

In addition the interference had no basis in domestic law and was entirely different from the position in Peck where the local authority was specifically empowered by statute to record visual images of event occurring in their area. In the present case there was no such express power for the College to carry out surveillance on its employees and the statutory powers did not make such surveillance reasonably foreseeable.

Finally, the applicant asserts that the conduct of the College was neither necessary nor proportionate. There were reasonable and less intrusive methods that the College could have used such as drafting and publishing a policy dealing with the monitoring of employees’ usage of the telephone, internet and e-mail.

The applicant also contends that she suffered bullying and harassment in the form of monitoring of her movements whilst going to and from work or whilst she was on leave and watching where her car was parked. She contends that this treatment constituted an interference with her right to private life within the meaning of Article 8.

In relation to her Article 13 complaint, the applicant denies that any of the remedies suggested by the Government could provide an adequate remedy for her grievances for the reasons outlined in the exhaustion of domestic remedies section above.

2. The Court’s assessment

The Court considers that in so far as the applicant’s complaints under Articles 8 and 13 relate to allegations of bullying and harassment, including the surveillance of her movements, they are unsubstantiated by the evidence. It therefore declares these parts of the application manifestly ill-founded and inadmissible pursuant to Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

The applicant’s complaints in relation to the monitoring of her telephone calls, e-mail correspondence and internet usage raise complex and serious issues under Articles 8 and 13 which require determination on the merits. It follows that they cannot be dismissed as manifestly ill-founded. As no other ground for inadmissibility has been established, the Court therefore holds the complaint admissible.

For these reasons, the Court by a majority

Declares admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicant’s complaints concerning the monitoring of her telephone calls, e-mail correspondence and internet usage under Articles 8 and 13;

Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Françoise Elens-Passos Josep Casadevall 
 Deputy Registrar President

COPLAND v. THE UNITED KINGDOM DECISION


COPLAND v. THE UNITED KINGDOM DECISION