Case of Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and Norwegian Transport Workers Union (NTF) v. Norway

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ECHR Article 11

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In this case, the European Court of Human Rights addressed an alleged violation of the freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The violation was alleged in relation to a decision by the Norwegian Supreme Court to declare unlawful an announced boycott by a trade union. The Court found no violation of Article 11, thus confirming the Supreme Court’s decision. In reaching this decision however, the Court addressed two important points:

Firstly, while accepting the Supreme Court’s decision, the Court notes that for a collective action to achieve its aim, it may have to interfere with internal market freedoms and that the degree to which a collective action risks having economic consequences cannot be a decisive factor in the analysis of proportionality under Article 11, paragraph 2 of the Convention. The Court further observed that, when implementing their obligations under EU or EEA law, Contracting Parties must ensure that restrictions imposed on Article 11 rights do not affect the essential elements of trade union freedom. [Para. 117].

Secondly, the Court, while accepting that rights such as freedom of establishment may justify interference with the freedom of association, indicated that freedom of establishment is not an equal right, but rather a factor in assessing whether interference with the freedom of association is proportionate as per Article 11 Paragraph 2 of the Convention. [Para. 118].

As no request was submitted for referral to the Grand Chamber, the decision can be considered final. 

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