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Freedom of speech (496,-666)

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Keywords: Freedom of speech
Total judgments found: 26

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  • Judgment 4148


    128th Session, 2019
    World Health Organization
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR
    Summary: The complainant contests the decision to impose on her the disciplinary measure of suspension without pay for five working days.

    Consideration 7

    Extract:

    If comments by a staff member made in the context of a debate about employment matters are defamatory of another staff member (in the sense that the comments have injured a personís reputation or tarnished her or his good name), the fact that they are defamatory does not, by itself, deny the staff member making the comments the protection afforded by the principle of freedom of association. So much is apparent from the observations of the Tribunal in Judgment 3106, consideration 9. In that judgment the Tribunal noted in consideration 8 (citing Judgment 274, consideration 22) that the existence of a freedom of discussion and debate, inherent in the freedom of association, can have the consequence that when feelings run strong the discussion and debate can spill over into extravagant and even regrettable language. There are, of course, limits on the freedom of discussion and debate that the Tribunal noted in consideration 8 of Judgment 3106. In the present case, the GBA and the Director-General did take into account the complainantís right to freedom of expression within the umbrella of the freedom of association but found that the language was inappropriate. However, the complainant clearly had strong and not obviously illegitimate views about the procedure finally adopted involving the use of the Clinical Attendance Memo form and the role of the President of the Staff Association as a member of the working group. The complainant was able to criticise him and was not obliged to do so, within the umbrella of the freedom of discussion and debate inherent in the freedom of association, in entirely temperate or polite language. The Tribunal is satisfied that what the complainant said was comprehended by her right to freedom of association and was thus not misconduct.

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 274, 3106

    Keywords:

    defamation; freedom of association; freedom of speech;



  • Judgment 4043


    126th Session, 2018
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR
    Summary: The complainant challenges the decision to dismiss him for misconduct.

    Consideration 18

    Extract:

    [T]he complainant was entitled to share the letter with others in SUEPO, as a general critique of the lawfulness of the general agreement. It is well settled that staff representatives must enjoy a broad freedom of speech (Judgment 3156, consideration 12) and it was not unlawful for the complainant, in the circumstances of this case, to disseminate the letter [...] as he admitted doing.

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 3156

    Keywords:

    freedom of association; freedom of speech; staff representative;



  • Judgment 4042


    126th Session, 2018
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR
    Summary: The complainant challenges the decision to downgrade her for misconduct.

    Consideration 15

    Extract:

    [T]he complainant was entitled to share the letter with others in SUEPO, both as a general critique of the lawfulness of the general agreement and a manifestation of the Administrationís view of her conduct said to be an ďimplementationĒ of it. It is well settled that staff representatives must enjoy a broad freedom of speech (Judgment 3156, consideration 12) and it was not unlawful for the complainant to disseminate the letter of 2 November 2015 as she admitted doing.

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 3156

    Keywords:

    freedom of speech; staff representative;



  • Judgment 3156


    114th Session, 2013
    International Telecommunication Union
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR
    Summary: The complainants, who are former staff representatives, unsuccessfully challenge decisions which, in their view, constituted violations of the right of staff representation.

    Consideration 16

    Extract:

    "Since organisations must prevent [any] abuse of the right of free speech [enjoyed by bodies representing the staff], the Tribunalís case law does not absolutely prohibit the putting in place of a mechanism for the prior authorisation of messages circulated by [such] bodies [...]. An organisation acts unlawfully only if the conditions for implementing this mechanism in practice lead to a breach of that right, for example by an unjustified refusal to circulate a particular message."

    Keywords:

    bias; breach; collective rights; condition; facilities; flaw; freedom of speech; judicial review; limits; organisation's interest; refusal; right; staff representative; staff union;



  • Judgment 3106


    113th Session, 2012
    United Nations Industrial Development Organization
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 11

    Extract:

    Any republication of the e-mail at that time amounted to excessive publication and, thus, it is not entitled to the same protection that attached to the original e-mail. This notwithstanding, there is no evidence to suggest that the e-mail on the bulletin board was widely read. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that its presence on the bulletin board was the result of ill will or any intentional act that can be attributed to the Organization. Moreover, it was removed before the complainant sought that course in his request for review of the decision of the Director of PSM/HRM of 15 January 2007. Even so, an organisation has a duty of care to ensure that material that injures the reputation or dignity of its staff members does not find its way into any of its authorised channels of communication. The complainant is entitled to claim against the Organization for its breach of that duty, even though the offending material was removed from the bulletin board before he lodged his internal appeal. In these circumstances, the complainant is entitled to material and moral damages. Given that the evidence does not permit
    of a finding that the e-mail was widely read on the bulletin board and, in the absence of evidence of any actual damage to the complainantís reputation by reason of its presence on the board, the Tribunal assesses those damages at 1,000 euros.

    Keywords:

    duty of care; freedom of speech;

    Consideration 9

    Extract:

    "The law of defamation is not concerned solely with the question whether a statement is defamatory in the sense that it injures a personís reputation or tarnishes his or her good name. It is also concerned with the question whether the statement was made in circumstances that afford a defence. Broadly speaking, the defences to a claim in defamation mark out the boundaries of permissible debate and discussion. As a general rule, a statement, even if defamatory in the sense indicated, will not result in liability in defamation if it was made in response to criticism by the person claiming to have been defamed or if it was made in the course of the discussion of a matter of legitimate interest to those to whom the statement was published and, in either case, the extent of the publication was reasonable in the circumstances."

    Keywords:

    complaint allowed in part; freedom of speech; liability; limits; mitigating circumstances; moral injury; publication; respect for dignity;



  • Judgment 2751


    105th Session, 2008
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 3 and 6

    Extract:

    "Statements made in legal proceedings are privileged, whether those statements are made in writing in the pleadings or orally in the course of a hearing. The consequence is that, even if defamatory, they cannot be the subject of legal proceedings or sanction. The privilege, sometimes referred to as 'in court privilege', exists, not for the benefit of the parties or their representatives, but because it is necessary for the proper determination of proceedings and the issues that arise in their course. In Judgment 1391 the Tribunal recognised that the privilege attaches to its proceedings, as well as those of internal appeal bodies. [...]
    [T]he Tribunal's consideration of the extent of the privilege that attaches to statements made in the course of internal appeal proceedings or proceedings before the Tribunal has concentrated on statements made by staff members. However, the privilege is the same in the case of statements made by or on behalf of defendant organisations, and they must be allowed a similar degree of freedom in what they say and the manner of its expression. Even so, a statement will constitute a perversion of a defendant organisation's right of reply if it is wholly irrelevant and it can only serve an improper purpose."

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 1391

    Keywords:

    breach; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; confidential evidence; consequence; disciplinary measure; formal requirements; freedom of speech; iloat; internal appeals body; international civil servant; judicial review; misuse of authority; oral proceedings; organisation; privileges and immunities; procedure; purpose; reply; respect for dignity; right; same; settlement out of court;



  • Judgment 2672


    104th Session, 2008
    World Intellectual Property Organization
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 9 and 10

    Extract:

    "A staff association or union is, in essence, a voluntary association of employees and/or others in a relationship pursuant to which they perform services by way of personal exertion, who have agreed together to act collectively [...] to protect and promote their industrial interests. The powers of the association may extend to the protection and promotion of the industrial interests of those who are eligible to belong to the association. Many countries require other formalities including, sometimes, registration under the relevant domestic law. Those laws cannot apply to a staff association or union the membership of which is restricted to international civil servants. However, that is not to say that no formality is necessary for the formation of a staff association or union representing international civil servants.

    For the creation of a staff association or union representing international civil servants, there must, at the very least, be some means of identifying the agreement voluntarily to associate for the purpose of protecting and promoting the industrial interests of members, the terms of that agreement and the means by which it may be varied, both in relation to individual employees and the purposes or objects of the association. [...] [B]ecause it is a voluntary association, there must be an agreement as to the persons by or through whom the association acts, the means by which those persons are selected or elected, the matters in respect of which they have authority to act and the powers that they have in relation to those matters. In the absence of agreement as to each of those matters, the agreement to associate would, in accordance with general principles of law, be void for uncertainty. And to have an agreement covering those matters, there must be rules incorporated in a charter, a statute or some other document to which the members subscribe and by which they agree to be bound."

    Keywords:

    applicable law; collective bargaining; collective rights; effect; freedom of association; freedom of speech; general principle; staff claim; staff representative; staff union agreement; written rule;



  • Judgment 2656


    103rd Session, 2007
    International Atomic Energy Agency
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 7

    Extract:

    The complainant was accused of having deliberately made false allegations of misconduct against other staff members. At the end of the disciplinary procedure he was dismissed for serious misconduct. "[A]lthough it is not correct to equate deliberate falsehood with reckless indifference to the truth in all circumstances, the nature of the allegations may be such that there is little, if any, room for difference in the consequent sanction. The more serious the allegation, the greater is the need for care. In the present case the allegations were indeed serious, and were of a kind which, in the absence of cogent evidence, should never have been made. That being so, there was no error in this case in equating the appropriate sanction for reckless indifference with that for deliberate falsehood. The complainant showed a callous disregard for the feelings of the persons concerned and a lack of judgement that was wholly incompatible with the standards of conduct required of an international civil servant. In the circumstances, these matters do not warrant a finding that the disciplinary action was disproportionate to the conduct in question."

    Keywords:

    breach; conduct; disciplinary measure; disciplinary procedure; freedom of speech; international civil servant; lack of evidence; liability; misconduct; proportionality; respect for dignity; same; serious misconduct; staff member's duties; termination; working relations; written rule;



  • Judgment 2626


    103rd Session, 2007
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 5(a)

    Extract:

    "A decision to refuse to publish in an international organisation's in-house magazine the corrigendum of an article which, in the opinion of the staff member concerned, injures his personal interests may constitute a breach of that staff member's personal rights and an infringement of his freedom of expression. Insofar as such a decision in itself produces legal effects and infringes the rights of the staff member concerned, it constitutes an administrative act causing injury."

    Keywords:

    amendment to the rules; breach; cause of action; effect; freedom of speech; individual decision; injury; moral injury; organisation; publication; refusal; respect for dignity; right; staff member's interest;



  • Judgment 2315


    96th Session, 2004
    Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 28 and 29

    Extract:

    The complainant submits that the impugned decision is vitiated by a breach of due process of law, inasmuch as the recommendation of the Personnel Advisory Panel was kept from him. The Commission points out that this recommendation is confidential and, thus, there was no breach of due process. "Should a claim of confidentiality be made, for example, where a recommendation contains immaterial information on a third party, it is for the party making that claim to establish the grounds upon which the claim is based. In such a case, precautions may be taken to maintain confidentiality. In the present case, the Commission provides no grounds for its argument of confidentiality other than the need for the Personnel Advisory Panel to be able freely to discuss relevant matters. In a decision-making process which is subject to internal review and to the jurisdiction of this Tribunal, that is not an acceptable basis for a claim of confidentiality."

    Keywords:

    advisory body; breach; burden of proof; complaint; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; confidential evidence; decision; formal flaw; freedom of speech; grounds; iloat; internal appeal; procedure; recommendation; request by a party; right to reply;



  • Judgment 2228


    95th Session, 2003
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 11

    Extract:

    The Staff Committee, which is a statutory body of the organisation, made the facilities derived from its access to the organisation's internal electronic mail system available to the Staff Union. Its access to the system was withdrawn. "The organisation [submits that] the facilities offered to the Staff Committee cannot be made available to the Staff Union without creating confusion with regard to the attribution of roles and responsibilities, even if those in charge of one of these bodies are also, or may be, in charge of the other. This does not mean to say that the unions should not be provided with certain facilities by the organisations. On the contrary, their freedom of expression should not be hampered, as indicated by the Tribunal in Judgment 1547, [...] and unions must clearly be provided with sufficient facilities, within the framework of negotiated agreements or, if need be, administrative regulations, to enable them to carry on their activities. It is legitimate, however, for the organisation to ensure that the facilities made available to a body officially representing the staff as a whole are not misused for the benefit of a union, or any other body having its own assets and representing only part of the staff."

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 1547

    Keywords:

    administrative instruction; case law; collective bargaining; facilities; freedom of speech; grounds; liability; limits; organisation's duties; purpose; refusal; staff representative; staff union; staff union activity; staff union agreement; written rule;

    Consideration 11

    Extract:

    The Staff Committee's access to the organisation's internal electronic mail system was withdrawn after the organisation made an objection on technical grounds following the mass distribution of documents. "The Staff Committee is responsible for [...] maintaining "suitable contacts between the competent administrative authorities and the staff", which necessarily implies the availability of adequate means of communication within the organisation... Nevertheless, the incident mentioned by the [organisation] involving the mass distribution of a union report [...] shows that some degree of control is necessary, without jeopardising the Staff Committee's freedom of expression and speech."

    Keywords:

    acceptance; consequence; facilities; freedom of speech; international civil servant; liability; organisation; publication; purpose; rebuttal; refusal; report; staff union;



  • Judgment 2227


    95th Session, 2003
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 7

    Extract:

    The complainant was informed by a letter of 22 December 1999 that the administration reserved the right to approve the photocopying and distribution of circulars issued by staff representatives. "The Tribunal recalled, in Judgment 911 [...], that a staff association enjoys broad freedom of speech and the right to take to task the administration of the organisation whose employees it represents, but that like any other freedom such freedom has its bounds. thus any action that impairs the dignity of the international civil service, and likewise gross abuse of freedom of speech, are inadmissible. But the prevention of such abuse cannot give the administration a power of prior censorship over the communication of written information produced by the groups and associations concerned. Herein lies the problem in this case: the Office considers it has a general right to authorise, which it maintains it uses only with moderation, but the limits of such authorisation are by no means clear. The Tribunal cannot set aside a general decision on the grounds that it does not offer the guarantees that are in any case available to staff members on the basis of the general principles of international civil service law, as established and interpreted by the Tribunal and other international administrative tribunals. These principles confine the administration's scope of action to cases where there is gross abuse of the right to freedom of expression or lack of protection of the individual interests of persons affected by remarks that are ill-intentioned, defamatory or which concern their private lives. And it is in the light of these principles that the letter of 22 December 1999 [...] should be interpreted. a refusal to grant an authorisation may be regarded as lawful only if it complies with the above principles."

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 911

    Keywords:

    acceptance; case law; collective rights; exception; freedom of speech; general decision; general principle; iloat; international civil servant; international civil service principles; interpretation; judicial review; limits; organisation; outside activity; publication; refusal; respect for dignity; right; safeguard; staff member's interest; staff representative; staff union; staff union activity; tribunal;



  • Judgment 2114


    92nd Session, 2002
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 14

    Extract:

    "When the measure takes the form of a reprimand, the Tribunal will exercise a limited power of review. It will not interfere 'unless the measure was taken without authority, or violates a rule of form or procedure, or is based on an error of fact or of law, or if essential facts have not been taken into consideration, or if it is tainted with abuse of authority, or if a clearly mistaken conclusion has been drawn from the facts'. (see Judgment 274, [...], under 2.)"

    Reference(s)

    ILOAT Judgment(s): 274

    Keywords:

    censure; conduct; decision-maker; disciplinary measure; disregard of essential fact; duty of discretion; formal flaw; freedom of speech; judicial review; limits; mistake of fact; mistaken conclusion; misuse of authority; procedural flaw;



  • Judgment 2048


    91st Session, 2001
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 12 and 15

    Extract:

    Sending a threatening letter to a colleague is unacceptable conduct by an international civil servant. The Tribunal is of the opinion that this is a valid reason for not renewing a contract.

    Keywords:

    conduct; contract; decision; disciplinary measure; freedom of speech; grounds; misconduct; non-renewal of contract; serious misconduct; staff member's duties; working relations;



  • Judgment 1547


    81st Session, 1996
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 12, 13 and 14

    Extract:

    "The EPO had no formal agreement with the union about facilities such as the distribution of a summons to a meeting. But it admitted to the Appeals Committee that its consistent practice since 1992 had been to distribute any unsealed unofficial internal mail, whether private or not, save any text containing a personal attack on someone. Was such usage binding in law? [...] The plain expectation of the staff was that the EPO would deliver notices from their union without let or hindrance." Therefore the complaints succeed.

    Keywords:

    binding character; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; decision quashed; discretion; facilities; flaw; freedom of association; freedom of speech; judicial review; limits; organisation's duties; practice; staff union; staff union activity;

    Consideration 8

    Extract:

    "Precedent has it that an organisation has some latitude in affording facilities to a staff union and its decisions are not subject to judicial review. That is not so, however, where it is charged with breach of freedom of association. The Tribunal will indeed interfere if the effect of the impugned decision is to hamper the freedom of speech that any union must enjoy. Refusal to deliver invitations to a union meeting is unquestionably a breach of the privacy of mail and of the freedom of speech that is part and parcel of freedom of association."

    Keywords:

    case law; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; decision quashed; discretion; facilities; flaw; freedom of association; freedom of speech; judicial review; limits; staff union; staff union activity;



  • Judgment 1532


    81st Session, 1996
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 13

    Extract:

    "Claim 8 is to costs. Again the Tribunal reminds [the complainant], in view of the intemperate language of his submissions, that he owes a duty of respect to the Organization and to its staff. Because he has failed in that duty the Tribunal disallows his claim to costs, even though one of his claims succeeds."

    Keywords:

    claim; complaint; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; conduct; costs; freedom of speech; limits; no award of costs; organisation's reputation; staff member's duties;



  • Judgment 1531


    81st Session, 1996
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 15

    Extract:

    As for his claim to costs, "the Tribunal observes, in view of the intemperate language of his submissions, that he owes a duty of respect to the defendant and to its staff. Though his complaint succeeds in part, his claim to costs is disallowed because he has not fulfilled that duty."

    Keywords:

    complainant; complaint allowed; complaint allowed in part; conduct; freedom of speech; international civil servant; limits; no award of costs; organisation's reputation; staff member's duties;



  • Judgment 1431


    79th Session, 1995
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 7

    Extract:

    The EPO described [the complainant's] complaint as "an abuse". But it does not ask the Tribunal to dismiss it as irreceivable for that reason. "The defendant is merely exercising the freedom of speech that any litigant must be allowed, short of resorting to offensive or insulting language." the complainant's claim to damages on that account fails.

    Keywords:

    criteria; freedom of speech; limits; new claim; organisation; rejoinder; reply; submissions; vexatious complaint;



  • Judgment 1391


    78th Session, 1995
    European Patent Organisation
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Consideration 8

    Extract:

    "Decisions taken by the organisation are subject to review on grounds such as bias, bad faith, malice and abuse of authority. When seeking to defend his interests by impugning any such decision, an employee is entitled to allege and attempt to establish such grounds. A fair decision cannot be reached upon such matters by an internal appeals body or by this Tribunal if witnesses, parties and their representatives are unable to speak candidly and without the risk of incurring a penalty for what they may say, and especially if one party is unduly inhibited by the fear that failure to prove his case my make him liable to disciplinary action by the other party."

    Keywords:

    bias; burden of proof; complainant; complaint; complaint allowed; decision quashed; disciplinary measure; evidence; freedom of speech; internal appeal; internal appeals body; judicial review; misuse of authority; submissions; testimony; tribunal;

    Consideration 10

    Extract:

    The complainant was subject to disciplinary action for having made statements, some of them before the Tribunal, which allegedly impaired the organisation's and the Tribunal's reputations. The Disciplinary Committee asked whether the punishment of offensive remarks "for which there is no clear justification supported by evidence" would infringe the complainant's rights. The Tribunal holds that "such a test laid an undue burden on the complainant in that if he was to avoid the risk of disciplinary action he must prove the truth of his allegations. No such burden should have been put on him. The mere failure to prove the truth of his allegations did not mean that he had either abused his freedom of speech or forfeited the immunity or privilege of judicial proceedings."

    Keywords:

    burden of proof; complainant; complaint; complaint allowed; criteria; decision quashed; disciplinary measure; evidence; freedom of speech; organisation's reputation; submissions; tribunal; vexatious complaint;

    Consideration 11

    Extract:

    "A litigant whose submissions contain language that is unacceptable, or ill-chosen, or damaging, or unseemly, does not thereby lose the immunity that attaches to statements made in judicial proceedings".

    Keywords:

    complainant; complaint; complaint allowed; decision quashed; freedom of speech; organisation's reputation; submissions; vexatious complaint;



  • Judgment 1262


    75th Session, 1993
    European Southern Observatory
    Extracts: EN, FR
    Full Judgment Text: EN, FR

    Considerations 11 and 12

    Extract:

    The complainant objects to a decision not to extend his appointment. "The complainant was involved in the layout and design of the staff magazine, which, he says, was at times critical of the ESO. [...] The charge of victimisation, which is easy enough to make, has to be supported by serious evidence. The complainant has failed to discharge the burden that lies on him to prove the charge against the Observatory. For one thing, he was not even an official of the Staff Association. For another, his allegation that he was victimised merely because he helped with the publication of the magazine is unsupported by a shred of evidence."

    Keywords:

    burden of proof; contract; decision; evidence; fixed-term; freedom of speech; harassment; hidden disciplinary measure; non-renewal of contract; staff representative;

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Last updated: 12.08.2019 ^ top