THIRD SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Applications nos. 75241/01, 75260/01, 75263/01, 75265/01, 75266/01, 75268/01, 75746/01, 75747/01, 75748/01, 75749/01, 75752/01, 75753/01, 75754/01, 75755/01, 75756/01, 75758/01, 76280/01, 76281/01, 76282/01 and 76283/01

by Henriëtte VAN DEN BORN-VAN DE WAL and Others 
against the Netherlands

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 22 September 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr B.M. Zupančič, President
 Mr J. Hedigan
 Mr L. Caflisch
 Mr C. Bîrsan
 Mr V. Zagrebelsky
 Ms R. Jaeger, 
 Mr E. Myjer, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the applications listed in the appendix,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicants are all Netherlands nationals.

Mr J.H.M. Boerland died on 10 July 2004. He will continue to be referred to hereinafter as an applicant, although it is now his heirs – having elected to pursue the proceedings in his stead – who have that status.

Mrs H.A. van den Born-van de Wal, Mrs G. Koopmans-de Jong, Mrs J. van den Berg, Mrs I. Klein Langenhorst-Edel, Mrs J.J. Steenbergen and Mrs H.A. Pelle-Hoenstok are represented before the Court by Ms T. Spronken, a lawyer practising in Maastricht.

Mrs J.M. Breugem-Westerkamp, Mrs G. Gosschalk-Wigboldus, Mrs M.E.C. Santoro-van Halm Braam, Mrs W. Hop-Bloemberg, Mrs M.J.C. Braspenning, Mr M.J. Lens, Mr J.H.M. Boerland, Mrs M. Scholte-Sleumer, Mrs W.C. Monster and Mr M.C.A. Glas are represented by Mr T. Barkhuysen, a lawyer practising in Amsterdam.

Mrs H.M. Boesveld-ten Brinke, Mrs P. Waalwijk-Kemink, Mrs H.E. Lutgens-van Oostveen and Mrs H. van Veen-Olthof are represented by Mr G.J. Knotter, a lawyer practising in Woerden.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the twenty cases, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.

The applicants are all widows or widowers; as such, they all enjoyed pensions under the General Widows’ and Orphans’ Benefits Act (Algemene Weduwen- en Wezenwet; “AWW”) at the time when that Act was repealed.

On 1 July 1996 the AWW was replaced by the Surviving Dependants Act (Algemene Nabestaandenwet; “Anw”); it was this Act which governed the applicants’ entitlement to a pension as a widow or widower thereafter.

For all the applicants, the entry into force of the new Act led to a reduction of their pensions. Some lost their pensions altogether.

B.  Relevant domestic law

The Court refers to Goudswaard-van der Lans v. the Netherlands (dec.), no. 75255/01, 22 September 2005, for a description of the relevant domestic law.

COMPLAINTS

In their first letters to the Court, the applicants Mrs H.A. van den Born-van de Wal, Mrs G. Koopmans-de Jong, Mrs J. van den Berg, Mrs I. Klein Langenhorst-Edel, Mrs J.J. Steenbergen, Mrs H.A. Pelle-Hoenstok, Mrs J.M. Breugem-Westerkamp, Mrs G. Gosschalk-Wigboldus, Mrs M.E.C. Santoro-van Halm Braam, Mrs W. Hop-Bloemberg, Mr M.J.C. Braspenning, Mr M.J. Lens, Mr J.H.M. Boerland, Mrs M. Scholte-Sleumer, Mrs W.C. Monster and Mr M.C.A. Glas complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the reductions of their widows’ and widowers’ pension, effected by the Anw, were disproportionate and lacked justification.

On their application forms, which were dated 12 October 2001, these applicants made additional complaints under Article 14 of the Convention taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, Article 8 of the Convention and Article 6 of the Convention.

The applicants Mrs H.M. Boesveld-ten Brinke, Mrs P. Waalwijk-Kemink, Mrs H.E. Lutgens-van Oostveen and Mrs H. van Veen-Olthof complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of an unwarranted reduction of their benefits.

Mrs Lutgens-van Oostveen and Mrs Van Veen-Olthof also complained under Article 14 of the Convention taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the distinction made between those recipients of an AWW pension whose other income came from paid employment and those whose other income consisted of social benefits under different legislation.

THE LAW

The applicants’ complaints under Articles 1 of Protocol No. 1 taken alone and together with Article 14 of the Convention and Article 8 all relate to the reduction of their widows’ and widowers’ pensions, and consequently of their disposable income, as a result of the entry into force of the Anw.

The complaints made by sixteen of the applicants under Article 6 of the Convention relate to the scope of review of the domestic tribunals concerned.

The Court will confine itself to referring to its decision in the case of Goudswaard-van der Lans v. the Netherlands, referred to above, and the reasoning on which it is based.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to join the applications;

Declares the applications inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič 
 Registrar President

 

Appendix

List of applicants

Application no.: Name:

Lodged on 12 July 2001

1. 75241/01 VAN DEN BORN-VAN DE WAL Henriëtte

2. 75260/01 KOOPMANS-DE JONG Geertje

3. 75263/01 VAN DEN BERG Jentje

4. 75265/01 KLEIN LANGENHORST-EDEL Ina

5. 75266/01 STEENBERGEN Janny Johanna

6. 75268/01  PELLE-HOENSTOK Henriëtte Antonia

7. 75746/01 BREUGEM-WESTERKAMP Joyce Marlise

8. 75747/01 GOSSCHALK-WIGBOLDUS Geertruida

9. 75748/01 SANTORO-VAN HALM BRAAM Maria Elisabeth

Christina

10. 75749/01 HOP-BLOEMBERG Wine

11. 75752/01 BRASPENNING Maria Johanna Cornelia

12. 75753/01 LENS Marinus Jacob

13. 75754/01 BOERLAND Johannes Henricus Maria

14. 75755/01 SCHOLTE-SLEUMER Maria

15. 75756/01 MONSTER Wilhelmina Catherina

16. 75758/01 GLAS Maria Catharina Antoinette

Lodged on 13 July 2001

17. 76280/01 BOESVELD-TEN BRINKE H.M.

18. 76281/01 WAALWIJK-KEMINK Paulina

19. 76282/01 LUTGENS-VAN OOSTVEEN Hendrica Elisabeth

20. 76283/01 VAN VEEN-OLTHOF Hillechien

VAN DEN BORN-VAN DE WAL AND OTHERS v. THE NETHERLANDS DECISION


VAN DEN BORN-VAN DE WAL AND OTHERS v. THE NETHERLANDS DECISION