Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v. Belgium

App. No. 9267/81, 113 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1987)

From our private database of 46,100+ case briefs, written and edited by humans—never with AI.

Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v. Belgium

European Court of Human Rights
App. No. 9267/81, 113 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1987)

Facts

Lucienne Mathieu-Mohin and Georges Clerfayt (plaintiffs) were French-speaking legislators living in the district of Halle-Vilvoorde in the Flemish region of Belgium (defendant). Belgium had three regions: Flemish, Walloon, and Brussels, and three language communities: Flemish, French, and German. Belgium’s senators and members of the House of Representatives served on councils that addressed the concerns of the regions and language communities where these languages were mainly spoken. Dutch was the main language spoken in the Flemish region; however, there was a significant population who spoke French. Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt were faced with a problem. Based on the rules pursuant to ongoing constitutional reforms, legislators were assigned to the community councils based on the language in which they took their parliamentary oaths. For Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt, this meant that if they took their oaths in French, they would become members of the French Community Council, which did not have authority over issues in Halle-Vivoorde because it belonged to the Flemish region, and they would become members of the French-language group in the Senate or the House. Likewise, if Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt took their oaths in Dutch, they would become members of the Flemish Community Council, which would prevent them from being able to vote on certain issues of concern to the French-speaking community, and they would become members of the Dutch-language groups in the Senate or the House. The significance of these language groups was particularly felt if special majorities were needed. The aim of this transitional system was to provide equilibrium and defuse disputes between regions and linguistic communities and establish decentralized leadership. Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt alleged that this system prevented Halle-Vilvoorde’s French-speaking residents from enjoying the same range of electoral rights as the residents who spoke Dutch, a situation in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (the convention) and its protocol. Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt argued that this violated Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, which required free elections in conditions that guaranteed people’s free expression in their selection of a legislature, either alone or in combination with Article 14 of the convention, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of language and various other factors. Belgium argued that these conditions were not violative, because French-speaking residents could vote for French-speaking officials who chose to take their oaths in Dutch, thereby securing assignment to the Flemish Community Council.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Concurrence (Farinha, J.)

Dissent (Cremona et al., J.J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 745,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.

    Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.

    Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee

Here's why 745,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 46,100 briefs, keyed to 987 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Access this case brief for FREE

With a 7-day free trial membership
Here's why 745,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet
  • 46,100 briefs - keyed to 987 casebooks
  • Uniform format for every case brief
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions
  • Top-notch customer support

Access this case brief for FREE

With a 7-day free trial membership