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

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

(...)

7.4 As to the author's contention that the Court of Appeal violated the authors' right to a fair trial contained in article 14, paragraph 1, by failing to afford the authors an opportunity to comment on the brief containing legal argument submitted by the Forestry Authority after expiry of filing limits, the Committee notes that it is a fundamental duty of the courts to ensure equality between the parties, including the ability to contest all the argument and evidence adduced by the other party. (17) The Court of Appeal states that it had "special reason" to take account of these particular submissions made by the one party, while finding it "manifestly unnecessary" to invite a response from the other party. In so doing, the authors were precluded from responding to a brief submitted by the other party that the Court took account of in reaching a decision favourable to the party submitting those observations. The Committee considers that these circumstances disclose a failure of the Court of Appeal to provide full opportunity to each party to challenge the submissions of the other, thereby violating the principles of equality before the courts and of fair trial contained in article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.