Facts: The applicant is a Lithuanian national employed by the Lithuanian armed forces. His contract was terminated because he had reached retirement age, in accordance with the legal provisions in force.
The applicant challenged this decision before the administrative courts, alleging that he had been discriminated against on grounds of his personal opinions, and asked the courts to obtain and analyse evidence of other soldiers in his battalion who should also have been dismissed on grounds of age. The applicant’s complaints were dismissed and that decision was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court.
Issue: The case was brought to the Court to decide whether there is a violation of Articles 6 § 1 (Right to a fair trial) and 10 (Freedom of expression) of the ECHR.
Holding: Yes, there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
No, there has been no violation of Article 10 of the convention.
Court’s Rationale: The applicant was dissatisfied that when examining his complaint the administrative courts had ignored his repeated requests for access to the military files of four specific servicemen. On this point the Court observes that one of the elements of a fair hearing within the meaning of Article 6 § 1 is the right to adversarial proceedings.
The Court stated that a comparison between the applicant’s situation and that of the other serviceman was indispensable for the applicant to be able to present his grievance.
The failure of the domestic courts to assist the applicant in obtaining evidence had denied the applicant an essential means to argue his case.
In disputes concerning civil rights, such as the present one, such a limited assessment could not be considered an effective judicial review under Article 6 § 1.
The proceedings taken as a whole did not satisfy the requirements of a fair and public hearing within the meaning of Article 6 § 1.