Mihailov v. Bulgaria

Application No. 52367/99
Download Judgment: English
Country: Bulgaria
Region: Europe
Year: 2005
Court: European Court of Human Rights
Health Topics: Chronic and noncommunicable diseases, Disabilities, Health care and health services, Occupational health
Human Rights: Right to due process/fair trial
Tags: Asbestos, Disabled, Examination

The applicant was diagnosed with asbestosis and various other pulmonary diseases by the Labour-Expert Medical Commission (LEMC) in November of 1989. The Commission determined that the applicant qualified for second-degree disability. After a deterioration of the applicant’s health, in December of 1997, the LEMC categorized the applicant’s disability as first degree without the need for another’s person’s assistance and then first-degree disability in need of another person’s assistance in May of 1998. However, in June of 1998 the Central Labour-Expert Medical Commission (CLEMC) overturned the Commission’s 1997 and 1998 decisions and the applicant’s disability status was set back to second degree. The applicant lodged an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court. A three-member panel of the court determined the appeal was inadmissible because CLEMC’s decisions were not subject to judicial review. The applicant then appealed to five-member panel arguing that the refusal to review the appeal violated Article 120 §2 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the Convention. The five-member panel upheld the previous panel’s decision.

The applicant argued that the Supreme Administrative Court’s refusal amounts to a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial).

The Court held that the State was in violation of Article 6 § 1 by not providing judicial review of the LEMC’s and CLEMC’s decisions. Article 6 § 1 requires judicial review of decisions by administrative authorities that can affect civil rights. As the amount of pension the applicant would receive depended on the determination of his disability status, the applicant’s right was affected. The Court found that the LEMC and CLEMC did not qualify as tribunals as the members of the commissions were not independent and because the commissions did not have rules of procedure. Thus, the Convention required judicial review of their decisions, yet the Supreme Administrative Court refused to do so.

“35. Under Article 6 § 1 it is necessary that, in the determination of civil rights and obligations, decisions taken by administrative authorities which do not themselves satisfy the requirements of that Article be subject to subsequent control by a judicial body that has full jurisdiction”