Judgment 37031/21

Applicant name I.V.
Applicant type natural person
Number of applicants 1
Country Estonia
Application no. 37031/21 
Date 10/10/2023
Judges Pere Pastor Vilanova, President,
 Yonko Grozev,
 Georgios A. Serghides,
 Darian Pavli,
 Peeter Roosma,
 Ioannis Ktistakis,
 Oddný Mjöll Arnardóttir
Institution Court
Type Judgment
Outcome Art. 8 Violation
Reason Decision making process
Type of privacy Private life
Keywords Adoption child
Facts of the case The applicant’s son was born in 2006, but the applicant was never entered in the register of births as the boy’s father. The case concerns the applicant’s unsuccessful attempt to obtain the annulment of a court decision by which his biological son was adopted by another man.
Analysis The applicant invokes both Articles 6 and 8 ECHR, but the Court decides to assess the case only under the latter provision.

The Court makes clear that a biological father’s attempt to contest the adoption of his son by another man, the decision to allow the adoption in Estonia and subsequent rejection of the applicant’s claim in the annulment proceedings fall to be examined in the context of his right to respect for his private life and not his right to family life.

The Court primarily turns to the decision makin gproces and notes that the domestic court, when deciding on the adoption, was or at least ought to have been aware of the applicant’s paternity proceedings pending in Latvia. However, it does not appear that the court took this into account in any manner when conducting the adoption proceedings. This disabled the domestic court from appropriately asessing the different interests at stake.

After learning of the adoption in Estonia, the applicant lodged an application for annulment of the adoption decision. However, that was eventually rejected by the Supreme Court, which found that he had no standing, since his paternity had not been confirmed in the eyes of the law.
The ECtHR reiterates that a biological father must not be completely excluded from his child’s life unless there are relevant reasons relating to the child’s best interests to do so, but that this does not necessarily imply a duty under the Convention to allow the biological father to challenge the legal father’s status. Nevertheless, an absolute impossibility of the presumed biological father to seek to establish his legal paternity on the sole ground that another man has already acknowledged paternity of the child in question, without looking into the particular circumstances of the case and the various interests at stake, is in violation of Article 8 ECHR. In this case, the Court does not accept that a mere reference to the absence, under the relevant domestic law, of formal grounds for revoking the adoption order can be regarded as a “sufficient” consideration in the quest for striking a fair balance between the competing interests in the case at hand.

Consequently, on both points, the Court finds a violation of Article 8 ECHR.
Other Article violation? No violation 6 ECHR
Damage awarded Holds (a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts:
(i) EUR 12,000 (twelve thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 6,844 (six thousand eight hundred and forty-four euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
Documents Judgment