by Pertti Juhani TOSSAVAINEN
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 5 May 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar.
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 August 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Pertti Juhani Tossavainen, is a Finnish national who was born in 1952 and lives in Tampere. 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 parties, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant suffers from a degenerative disease which led to full disability already in 1972.
On 5 February 1998 the applicant applied for financial aid from the city of Tampere in order to have his car at the time, or possibly a new car, adapted to his disability.
On 1 April 1999 the social worker in charge of his case decided to grant financial aid for adapting the applicant’s existing car to his condition. If the applicant were to purchase a new car, only the driver’s seat could be adapted.
On 19 April 1999 the applicant sought rectification before the Social Welfare and Health Care Board of the city of Tampere (hereinafter “the Board”; sosiaali- ja terveyslautakunta, social- och hälsovårdsnämnden), claiming, inter alia, that a new car was indispensable due to his state of health. The existing car was not in good condition and it was not expedient to adapt it to his condition.
On 27 October 1999 the Board upheld the social worker’s decision of 19 April 1999. It found that the applicant’s car was still fit for use and that only the necessary adaptation work could be reimbursed.
The applicant appealed to the Hämeenlinna Administrative Court (hallinto-oikeus, förvaltningsdomstolen), asking that the Board’s decision be modified so as to grant financial aid for the purchase of a new car and for its adaptation to his needs.
On 29 August 2000 the Administrative Court dismissed the complaint concerning the purchase of a new car without considering the merits, as it could not examine this complaint as a first-instance court. As to the rest of the appeal, the court quashed the Board’s decision and referred the case back to the Board for reconsideration. It found that the existing car was not suitable for a person in the applicant’s condition. All accessories requested by the applicant had been mentioned in medical certificates and they were thus found to be indispensable in view of his state of health.
On 7 November 2003, 13 April 2004 and 11 October 2004 the social worker in charge of the applicant’s case decided to grant him financial aid, estimated to be a total of 10,782 euros, for the purchase of a new car and certain accessories. The applicant’s application was rejected as far as most of the requested accessories were concerned.
The applicant again sought rectification before the Board, requesting that certain other accessories be included in the estimate.
On 11 February 2005 the Board rejected the applicant’s rectification request. More financial aid, in total 2,068 euros, had been granted to the applicant on 10 February 2005.
On 31 August 2006 the Administrative Court rejected the applicant’s appeal.
The applicant requested leave to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court (korkein hallinto-oikeus, högsta förvaltningsdomstolen).
On 14 February 2007 the Supreme Administrative Court refused leave to appeal.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the total length of his administrative proceedings had been incompatible with the reasonable-time requirement.
On 28 January 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Mr Arto Kosonen, Agent of the Government of Finland, declare that the Government of Finland offer to pay ex gratia EUR 3,800 (three thousand eight hundred euros)1 to Mr Pertti Juhani Tossavainen with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
On 17 February 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“I, Mr Pertti Juhani Tossavainen, the applicant in the above-mentioned case, note that the Government of Finland are prepared to pay me ex gratia the sum of EUR 3,800 (three thousand eight hundred euros)1 with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. From the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
I accept the proposal and waive any further claims against Finland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. I declare that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). 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.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President
1 This sum includes compensation for non-pecuniary damage in the amount of EUR 3,800 and EUR 0 for costs and expenses.