Van Meurs v the Netherlands, UN Human Rights Committee (1986) (excerpts)

Van Meurs v the Netherlands, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 215/1986 (excerpts)


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6.1 With respect to the author's claim related to the publicity of the sub-district court hearing, the Committee considers that if labour disputes are argued in oral hearing before a court, they fall within the requirement, in article 14, paragraph 1, that suits at law be held in public. That is a duty upon the State that is not dependent on any request, by the interested party, that the hearing be held in public. Both domestic legislation and judicial practice must provide for the possibility of the public attending, if members of the public so wish. In the instant case, the Committee notes that while the old. article 1639w of the Civil Code of the Netherlands was silent on the question of the public or non-public nature of the proceedings, it appears that in practice the public did not attend. It is far from clear in this case whether the hearing was or was not held in camera. The author's communication does not state that he or his counsel formally requested that the proceedings be held in public, or that the sub-district court made any determination that
they be held in camera. On the basis of the information before it, the Committee is unable to find that the proceedings in the author's case were incompatible with the requirement of a "public hearing" within the meaning of article 14, paragraph 1.

 6.2 The Committee observes that courts must make information on time and venue of the oral hearings available to the public and provide for adequate facilities for the attendance of interested members of the public, within reasonable limits, taking into account, e.g., the potential public interest in the case, the duration of the oral hearing and the time the formal request for publicity has been made. Failure of the court to make large courtrooms available does not constitute a violation of the right to a public hearing, if in fact no interested member of the public is barred from attending an oral hearing.