X. v ICELAND - 6825/74  ECHR 7 (18 May 1976)
(1976) 5 DR 86
APPLICATION N0 6825/74
DECISION of 18 May 1976 on the admissibility of the application Article 8 of the Convention : The right to respect for private life is not only the right to privacy, but also, to a certain extent, the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings. The keeping of a dog does not come within the sphere of the private life of the owner.
The facts presented by the parties and apparently not in dispute between them may be summarised as follows :
The applicant is an Icelandic national. He lives in Reykjavik, where regulations have been in force since 1924 which prohibit the keeping of dogs. The Regulation No. 11 of 20 January 1950 which is actually in force, contains the following provision :
"The keeping of dogs is not permitted with the exception of needful dogs in connection with farming at a legally established farm and shall be subject to supervision by the Public Health Board".
It is now based on Section 1 of Act No. 7 of 3 February 1953 which reads as follows :
"Town Councils and Parish Committees are authorised to restrict or forbid the keeping of dogs in the Communities by means of Regulations to be ratified by the Ministry of Health".
By means of a letter of 31 January 1972, addressed to the Mayor at Reykjavik, the applicant requested permission to keep a dog in his home.
After the refusal of such permission the applicant pursued his claim unsuccessfully before the Chief City Civil Judge at Reykjavik.
His appeal to the Supreme Court of Iceland was rejected on 18 June 1875. The Supreme Court held that the above provisions have not been invalidated, as the prohibition of dogs at Reykjavik had not been implemented. The court held further that the Convention had not been given force of law in Iceland and, besides, that the prohibition against the keeping of dogs at Reykjavik was not in conflict with Article 8 of the Convention.
The applicant alleges a violation of Art. 8 of the Convention.
The applicant has complained that according to the relevant provisions of Icelandic law he is not permitted to keep a dog in the citv of Reykjavik, where he lives. He claims to be the victim of a violation of Article 8 of the Convention which guarantees for everyone the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Under Article 25 (1) of the Convention, it is only the alleged violation of one of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention that can be the subject of an application, presented by a person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals.
The question before the commission in the present case is therefore whether the freedom of an individual to keep a dog is protected under the Convention and, in particular, whether the keeping of a dog belongs to "private life" within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention.
For numerous anglo-saxon and French authors the right to respect for "private life" is the right to privacy, the right to live, as far as one wishes, protected from publicity (cf. numerous references quoted by Velu "Privacy and Human Rights", Third International Colloquy about the European Convention on Human Rights, Manchester University Press, pages 27-28. See also Black's Law Dictionary, 4th edition, 1951, under "privacy").
In the opinion of the Commission, however, the right to respect for private life does not end there. It comprises also, to a certain degree, the right to establish and to develop relationships with other human beings, especially in the emotional field for the development and fulfilment of one's own personality.
The Commission cannot, however, accept that the protection afforded by Article 8 of the Convention extends to relationships of the individual with his entire immediate surroundings, insofar as they do not involve human relationships and notwithstanding the desire of the individual to keep such relationship within the private sphere.
No doubt the dog has had close ties with man since time immemorial.
However, given the above considerations this element alone is not sufficient to bring the keeping of a dog into the sphere of private life of the owner. It can further be mentioned that the keeping of dogs is by the very nature of that animal necessarily associated with certain interferences with the life of others and even with the public life.
It follows that Article 8 of the Convention cannot be interpreted such as to secure to everybody the right to keep a dog.
The present application must therefore be.declared inadmissible as being incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Art. 27 (2).
For this reasons, the Commission
DECLARES THIS APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.