by Kim PARVIAINEN
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 17 November 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 29 May 2008,
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 applicant, Mr Kim Parviainen, is a Finnish national who was born in 1979 and lives in Helsinki. He was represented before the Court by Mr Juhani Parviainen, a lawyer practising in Helsinki. The Finnish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr Arto Kosonen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 8 July 2005 the insurance company rejected the applicant’s application for rehabilitation aid.
The applicant appealed to the Employment Pensions’ Appeal Board (Työeläkeasioiden muutoksenhakulautakunta, Besvärsnämnden för arbetspensionsärenden) requesting, inter alia, that an oral hearing be held. On 23 January 2007 the Appeal Board, after having held an oral hearing, rejected the applicant’s appeal. It found that the applicant’s employment contract could not be substantiated in a reliable manner.
The applicant appealed to the Insurance Court (vakuutusoikeus, försäkringsdomstolen), requesting, inter alia, that an oral hearing be held. On 14 December 2007 the Insurance Court rejected the request for an oral hearing and upheld the decision of the Appeal Board. As for the oral hearing, it found that, in the light of Article 6 of the Convention and the fact that there had already been an oral hearing in the Appeal Board, another oral hearing would not have brought anything new to the case-file. As to the merits of the case, the court referred to the grounds given by the Appeal Board and added that the applicant had no right to rehabilitation aid as he had been under 23 years of age when his inability to work started and he had not worked during the twelve months prior to this.
It also appeared from the decision of 14 December 2007 that the Insurance Court had received from the insurance company, by a letter dated 26 September 2007, pre-trial investigation records with annexes, dated 20 July 2005 and connected to the case, and a statement that the insurance company was not going to present any invoice of its costs and expenses at that stage of the proceedings. These documents were not sent for comments to the applicant.
On 19 March 2008 the applicant lodged an extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court (korkein hallinto-oikeus, högsta förvaltningsdomstolen), requesting that the Insurance Court’s decision of 14 December 2007 be reopened. The applicant claimed that the Insurance Court had requested, by a letter dated 12 September 2007, that the insurance company provide the pre-trial investigation records together with its claims for costs and expenses, which the insurance company did by a letter dated 26 September 2007, and that these documents were never sent to him for comments.
A. Non-communication of certain documents
On 6 May 2009 the Government informed the Court that, on 8 April 2009, the Supreme Administrative Court had accepted the applicant’s request for re-opening of the Insurance Court proceedings. The court had found that the applicant had not been provided with an opportunity to be heard on account of the relevant pre-trial investigation records and the enclosed material submitted by the insurance company to the Insurance Court and that this failure had been a procedural error which had violated the applicant’s rights. The Supreme Administrative Court had thus annulled the Insurance Court’s decision of 14 December 2007 and had referred the case back to the Insurance Court for a new examination. Subsequently, the Insurance Court had communicated the relevant documents to the applicant for comments.
Consequently, the Government maintained that the circumstances allowed the Court to reach the conclusion that the matter had been resolved at the domestic level, so justifying the discontinuation of the examination of this complaint. The Government invited the Court to strike the complaint, under Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention, out of its list of cases.
On 20 July 2009 the applicant’s representative informed the Court that, even though the case had been referred back to the Insurance Court, the applicant was still a victim as the proceedings had lasted too long.
Article 37 § 1 of the Convention provides:
“1. The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that
(a) the applicant does not intend to pursue his application; or
(b) the matter has been resolved; or
(c) for any other reason established by the Court, it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application.
However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto so requires.”
The Court notes that the Supreme Administrative Court has now recognised the procedural error in the Insurance Court proceedings and that the case has been referred back to the Insurance Court for a new examination. Moreover, the Insurance Court has already communicated the relevant documents to the applicant for comments. In these circumstances, and having regard to Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention, the Court is of the opinion that the matter giving rise to the complaint can now be considered to be “resolved” (see Pisano v. Italy [GC] (striking out), no. 36732/97, §§ 40-50, 24 October 2002). Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the continued examination of this part of the case. In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike it out of the list.
B. The remainder of the application
The applicant also complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings had been unfair as the Insurance Court had not held an oral hearing in 2007, that the Insurance Court’s decision had not been sufficiently reasoned, and that the total length of the proceedings in his case had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement. Moreover, he complained under Article 6 § 2 of the Convention that the presumption of innocence had been violated as the Insurance Court had examined pre-trial investigation documents in the administrative proceedings.
Having regard to the case-file, the Court finds that the matters complained of do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the applicant’s rights under the Convention. Accordingly, this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Finds that the matter giving rise to the applicant’s non-communication complaint has been resolved;
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention, in so far as it relates to this complaint;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza