Olsson v. Sweden (No. 2) (17 E.H.R.R. 134) App. No. 13441/87 30, October 1992

Facts Summary

The applicants are husband and wife. The three children of the marriage were taken into care on 16 September 1980. The decision to take the children into care and the manner of its Implementation were considered by the Court in Olsson v. Sweden (No.1) (A/130): (1989) 11 E.H.R.R. 259.  The applicants made several requests to the Social Council to terminate the public care of their children.  Eventually, in a judgment of 18 June 1987, the Supreme Administrative Court directed that the public care of the two younger children should terminate.  Despite this, the Social Council prohibited the applicants from removing the two younger children from their respective foster homes.   The applicants instituted proceedings to challenge the prohibition on removal.   On M30 May 1988, the Supreme Administrative Court refused to revoke the prohibition order, but directed that it should end on 30 June 1989 and that preparations should be made to reunite the children and the applicants.  On 27 June 1989 the Social Council renewed the prohibition order until further notice.  The applicants tried unsuccessfully to have the order terminated.  They also brought related proceedings for access, and to challenge the transfer of custody of the children to the respective foster parents.  The applicants complained of violations of Articles 6(1), 8, 13 and 53 of the Convention.

Held

(1) By six votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 8 of the Convention in respect of the prohibition on removal;

(2) Unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 8 on account of the restrictions on access imposed between 23 June 1987 and 1 July 1990;

(3) By six votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 8 on account of the restrictions on access imposed after 1 July 1990;

(4) Unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6(1) in that no court remedy was available to challenge the restrictions on access imposed between 23 June 1987 and 1 July 1990;

(5) Unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 6(1) as regards any of the other points raised by the applicants before the Commission and the Court;

(6) By seven votes to two that no separate issue arose under Article 53;

(7) Unanimously, that it was not necessary to examine the other complaints, under Article 6(1) and 13, which the applicants had made before the Commission but did not pursue before the Court;

(8) Unanimously, that the Government should pay to the applicants jointly, within three months, 50,000 Skr for non-pecuniary damage, and 55,000 Skr (less 6,900 FF to be converted to Swedish krona at the rate applicant on the date of the judgment) for costs and expenses;

(9) Unanimously, that the remainder of the applicants' claims be dismissed for just satisfaction.

1. Admissibility: Jurisdiction of the Court

(a) The applicants raised a number of new complaints before the Court which had not been considered by the Commission.

(b) The new complaints were not covered by the Commission's decision on admissibility.   Furthermore, they did not meet the conditions necessary to depart from the rule that the Court's jurisdiction is delimited by the Commission's decision on admissibility.   Accordingly, the Court did not have jurisdiction to consider these new complaints.

2. Family Life: Interference; prescribed by law; legitimate aim; necessary in a democratic society; margin of appreciation (Art. 8). 

(a) There was no dispute that the prohibition on removal of the children from public care, its maintenance in force, and the restrictions on access constituted an interference with the applicants' right to respect for family life.

(b) The Court held that the prohibition on removal and its maintenance in force were in accordance with the law.

(c) The Government conceded that the access restrictions during the period 23 June 1987 to 1 July 1990 were not in accordance with the law.