by Markku PARVIAINEN
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 20 January 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 3 October 2005,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government ,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Markku Parviainen, is a Finnish national who was born in 1959 and lives in Helsinki. The Finnish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr Arto Kosonen, of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant was born in 1959 out of wedlock. The applicant’s mother and H.P. were engaged to be married at the time of his conception. In 1959, after having heard witnesses on the nature of the relationship between the applicant’s mother and H.P., the District Court ordered H.P. to pay child support.
On 1 October 1976 the Paternity Act (isyyslaki, lag om faderskap, 700/1975) came into force. The transitional provisions in the Implementing Act of the Paternity Act (laki isyyslain toimeenpanosta, lag angående införande av lagen om faderskap, 701/1975) stated that paternity proceedings with regard to a child born before the entry into force of the law had to be initiated within five years, that is, before 1 October 1981. Moreover, no claim could be examined after the death of the father. There were no such restrictions for children born after the entry into force of the Paternity Act.
H.P. died in May 2003. Subsequently, the applicant found out he did not have a legally registered father.
In June 2003 the applicant initiated proceedings to have H.P. retroactively registered as his father. He based his claim on his status as an “engagement child”. The District Court ordered, as an interim measure, that H.P.’s body was not to be cremated until DNA samples had been taken. However, in the event no tests were performed.
On 19 January 2004 the District Court dismissed the applicant’s claim. The court accepted the fact of the engagement but noted that, under the Paternity Act, no importance was to be attached to whether the parents were engaged or not. In any case, the claim should have been introduced before 1 October 1981. The applicant had reached the age of majority before the Paternity Act came into force and he could thus have initiated proceedings before that date.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal found, on 8 March 2005, that the order to take DNA samples had no basis in law and that the entire case should have been dismissed due to the expiry of the time-limit. However, the previous decision was not altered.
On 8 July 2005 the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal.
The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention that he had not received a fair hearing since his paternity application was dismissed on the basis of the five-year time-limit set out in national legislation without any examination of the merits. The applicant asserted that in some other cases similar claims had been successful.
By letter dated 29 April 2008 the applicant was informed that his case had been communicated to the Government for their observations. He was also requested to provide a signed authority form and contact details for his lawyer.
By letter dated 23 September 2008 the Government’s observations were sent to the applicant, who was requested to submit observations in reply together with any claims for just satisfaction by 3 November 2008. In addition, he was reminded that the Court had still not received the authority form or the above-mentioned contact details.
After no reply had been received to either of the above letters, the Registry tried to confirm the applicant’s address. Moreover, he has not informed the Court of any change of address.
The Court considers that, in these circumstances, the applicant may be regarded as no longer wishing to pursue his application, within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention. 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 the case. In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza Registrar President