Applicant name Wiggens
Applicant type Natural person
Country UK
Decision no.7456/76
Institution Commission
Type Decision
Outcome Art. 8 Inadmissible
Reason Manifestly il-founded (economic well-being, rights and freedoms of others)
Type of privacy Home; economic privacy
Keywords Housing; licence
Facts of the case Man buys a house in Guernsey, an island near France. The island is not part of the United Kingdom, but the possession of the British Crown. It is territory for Britain is responsible and is not considered a sovereing state. The island has a housing license system, to ensure that local inhabitants can buy homes, of which there are not many on the island, instead of people from elsewhere. The man has bought the home and renovated it while being married to a local women and after their divorce, he applies for a licence, which is rejected.
Analysis The case adresses a number of points:

1. There is discussion on the exhaustion of domestic remedies, but the Commission finds that the government has not sufficiently refuted the claim by the applicant that the remedies available to him would be ineffective.
2. Interestingly, is does not outright reject the applicant’s claim as to Article 63 of the Convention, reading: “(1) Any State may at the time of its ratification or at any time thereafter declare by notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe that the present Convention shall extend to all or any of the territories for whose international relations it is responsible. [] (3) The provisions of this Convention shall be applied in such territories with due regard, however, to local requirements.” However, “the Commission does not consider it necessary to make any separate findings in this case other than to say that it does not find any significant social or cultural differences between Guernsey and the United Kingdom which could be relevant to the application of the Articles invoked in the present case.”
3. With respect to Article 8 ECHR, the question is whether the building should be considered the applicant’s ‘home’. Yes, the Commission finds; the fact that his wife has left him does not change the fact that he lives in the building in question.
4. The government suggests that there has been no interference, because the applicant could live in the home only on the condition that he was married to a local person, and when there divorce was final, that condition was no longer fulfilled. The Commission disagrees, as he has been living in the building for 5 years and he cannot be required to have contemplated the dissolution of his marriage when he bought the home.
5. As to the question whether the interference was legitimate, the Commission finds that this was so, as the licencing system was laid down in law and could be considered necessary in a democratic society in light of the economic well-being of the island and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, in this case the original inhabitants of Guernsey.
6. The Commission comes to the same conclusion as to Article 1 Protocol 1.
7. As to the claim of being discriminated against, the Commission finds that indeed, there has been a differentation on the basis of property, birth or any other status’, but does not find that distinction problematic. ‘In the present case the purpose of the Housing Control Law of 1969 as well as the measures taken by the Housing Authority to enforce the Law was, as previously stated, to secure that accomodation would be available to persons with a recognised connection with Guernsey. The Commission considers that this aim is both objective and reasonable.’

Documents Decision