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Entities to which International Guarantees Apply

Liebscher, Hübl and Liebscher (decision), 12 April 1996 [ECtHR]

 

Case no 25170/94


All three applicants are lawyers (Rechtsanwälte) practising in Salzburg. (...)
1. The applicants complain that the impossibility to associate in the form of a private company for the purpose of exercising their profession violated their freedom of association. They invoke Article 11 (Art. 11) of the Convention. (...)
However, the Commission recalls that Article 11 paragraph 1 (Art. 11-1) of the Convention does not secure any particular treatment of associations, or their members, by the State (see Eur. Court H.R., Swedish Engine Drivers' Union judgment of 6 February 1976, Series A no.20, p. 15, para. 39; Union of Atheists v. France, Comm. Report 6.7.1994, para. 68).
In the present case the Commission finds that the applicants have the possibility to associate for the purpose of exercising their profession, in particular they can form a partnership under the Partnership Act. Thus the choice of a specific form of profit making associations is not in itself essential to the real exercise of the applicants' freedom of association (see Union of Atheists v. France, loc. cit.).
In these circumstances the Commission finds that there is no appearance of a violation of the applicants' freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11 (Art. 11) of the Convention.
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

2. The applicants further complain that they were discriminated against compared with accountants who could found companies limited by shares for exercising their profession and rely on Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention. (...)
The Commission recalls that Article 14 (Art. 14) complements the other substantive provisions of the Convention and the Protocols. It has no independent existence since it has effect solely in relation to "the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms" safeguarded by those provisions. Although the application of Article 14 (Art. 14) does not necessarily presuppose a breach of those provisions - and to this extent it is autonomous -, there can be no room for its application unless the facts at issue fall within the ambit of one or more of the latter (see Eur. Court H.R., Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali judgment of 28 May 1985, Series A no. 94, p. 35, para. 71).
The applicants do not invoke any substantive provision of the Convention. However, the commission has examined the present complaint under Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention read in conjunction with Article 11 (Art. 11).
In this respect the Commission recalls that Article 14 (Art. 14) safeguards individuals, placed under analogous situations, from discrimination (see Eur. Court H.R., van der Mussele judgment of 23 November 1983, Series A no. 70, p. 22, para. 46). The Commission recalls further that in the quoted judgment the Court has found that no such analogous situation existed as regards the bar and other professions, like veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, dentists and the judicial and parajudicial profession as each of them was characterized by a corpus of rights and obligations of which it would be artificial to isolate one specific aspect (loc. cit.; No. 18168/91, Dec. 1.12.93, unpublished).
In the present case, the Commission likewise considers that the applicants have failed to show that they were in an analogous situation as other liberal professions, in particular chartered public accountants, as the possibility to associate in a specific type of profit making association is one single feature of a corpus of rights and obligations governing the exercise of liberal professions. The Commission finds that in these circumstances the difference in treatment the applicants complain of does not constitute discrimination prohibited by Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention.
It follows that also this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

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