Äärelä and Näkkäläjärvi v Finland, UN Human Rights Committee (1997) (excerpts)

Äärelä and Näkkäläjärvi v Finland, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 779/1997 (excerpts)

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7.2 As to the authors' argument that the imposition of a substantial award of costs against them at the appellate level violated their rights under article 14, paragraph 1, to equal access to the courts, the Committee considers that a rigid duty under law to award costs to a winning party may have a deterrent effect on the ability of persons who allege their rights under the Covenant have been violated to pursue a remedy before the courts. In the particular case, the Committee notes that the authors were private individuals bringing a case alleging breaches of their rights under article 27 of the Covenant. In the circumstances, the Committee considers that the imposition by the Court of Appeal of substantial costs award, without the discretion to consider its implications for the particular authors, or its effect on access to court of other similarly situated claimants, constitutes a violation of the authors' rights under article 14, paragraph 1, in conjunction with article 2 of the Covenant. The Committee notes that, in the light of the relevant amendments to the law governing judicial procedure in 1999, the State party's courts now possess the discretion to consider these elements on a case by case basis.