J.J. v. THE NETHERLANDS (9/1997/793/994) 27 March 1998: plaintiff in taxation proceedings in Supreme Court unable to reply to advisory opinion of the Advocate-General --- Applicant’s appeal against fiscal penalty declared inadmissible on sole ground that court registration fee --- appeal on points of law-- right to adversarial proceedings

The Netherlands – plaintiff in taxation proceedings in Supreme Court unable to reply to advisory opinion of the Advocate-General

I. ARTICLE 6 1 OF THE CONVENTION

A. Applicability

Applicant’s appeal against fiscal penalty declared inadmissible on sole ground that court registration fee had not been paid – had Supreme Court quashed decision of Court of Appeal, it would have had full jurisdiction to substitute its own decision on the merits for that of Court of Appeal or else to refer case back to same or another court of appeal – decision of Supreme Court was decisive for determination of the "criminal charge" leading to imposition of fiscal penalty on applicant – fact that applicant’s appeal on points of law to Supreme Court and latter’s decision had been limited to a preliminary question of a procedural nature not sufficient to find Article 6 1 to be inapplicable.

B. Compliance

Similarity between essential features of procedure of Netherlands Supreme Court and Belgian Court of cassation – the purpose of the Advocate-General’s advisory opinion is to assist Supreme Court and help ensure that its case-law is consistent – duty of the Procurator-General’s department at Supreme Court to act with strictest objectivity.

Great importance of part played in proceedings by member of Procurator-General’s department: his submissions contained an opinion intended to advise and influence Supreme Court – fact that it had been impossible for applicant to reply to advisory opinion had infringed his right to adversarial proceedings.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

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