Entities to which International Guarantees Apply

Albert and Le Compte v Belgium, 10 February 1983 [ECtHR]

Cases nos 7299/75 and 7496/76

43. One of the two applicants, Dr. Le Compte, alleged a breach of Article 11 (art. 11) (...)
In the submission of Dr. Le Compte, the obligation to join the Ordre des médecins (see the above-mentioned Le Compte, Van Leuven and De Meyere judgment, Series A no. 43, p. 12, para. 21) inhibited freedom of association - which implied freedom not to associate - and went beyond the limits of the restrictions permitted under paragraph 2 of Article 11 (art. 11-2); furthermore, so he contended, the very existence of the Ordre had the effect of eliminating freedom of association.
In view of its opinion of 14 December 1979 on applications nos. 6878/75 75 and 7238/75 of Doctors Le Compte, Van Leuven and de Meyere (see the above-mentioned judgment of 23 June 1981, Series A no. 43, p. 26, para. 63), the Commission considered it pointless in the instant case to hear fresh argument on observance of Article 11 (art. 11). The parties therefore referred back to their previous submissions before the Commission and the Court. During the hearing held on 27 September 1982, those appearing before the Court - and notably counsel for Dr. Le Compte - did not revert to the question.

44. The Court sees no cause to depart from the decision it gave on this same issue in its judgment of 23 June 1981 (ibid., pp. 26-27, paras. 64-66). It is sufficient to recall the following: that the Ordre des médecins cannot be regarded as an association within the meaning of Article 11 (art. 11); that the existence of the Ordre and the resultant obligation on practitioners to be entered on its register and to be subject to the authority of its organs clearly have neither the object nor the effect of limiting, even less suppressing, the right safeguarded by Article 11 para. 1 (art. 11-1); and that there is thus no reason to examine the case under paragraph 2 of Article 11 (art. 11-2) or to determine whether the Convention recognises the freedom not to associate.


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