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Darby v. Sweden, No. 11581/85, ECtHR (Chamber), 23 October 1990

Type Judgment
Case number 11581/85


Payment of the "church tax" by a Finnish citizen working in Sweden. Violation of the combined provisions of articles 14 of the ECHR and 1 of the first Additional Protocol. Consequently, it is not necessary to verify a violation of art. 9.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR
Art. 1 Prot. 1 ECHR


1. Article 14 of ECHR protects individuals placed in similar situations from discrimination in their enjoyment of their rights under the Convention and its Protocols. However, a difference in the treatment of one of these individuals will only be discriminatory if it "has no objective and reasonable justification", that is if it does not pursue a "legitimate aim" and if there is no "reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised".
(The applicant, a Finnish citizen exercising his professional activity in Sweden, was subjected to taxation in the latter country. In this way, he was required to pay the so-called "Ecclesiastical tax", directed to the local Lutheran Church. His request to be exempt from payment, as he did not belong to that religious denomination, was rejected, as the exemption discipline referred only to people resident in Sweden. The Court considers that the conduct of the respondent State was discriminatory)