Administrative Supreme Court of Finland

Oinas case

Decision from 10.02.1979

KHO: 1979-A-I-4



Mr. Oinas, a Finnish-speaking construction worker, had lived in the Ǻland Islands since1972 together with his family. In 1978, he applied for the right of domicile. The Government of Ǻland rejected the application on the basis of the reasoning that Oinas did neither understand nor speak Swedish in a manner that could be expected, the duration of his stay in Ǻland taken in to account. According to the Ǻland Government this fact was to be classified as a “weighty reason” against granting the right of domicile for a person who had lived in Ǻland for more than five years.

- In his appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court Mr. Oinas alleged that the Government of Ǻland had abused its discretionary powers on the ground that the ability to understand and to speak Swedish was not explicitly mentioned as a ground for refusing the right of domicile under Section 3 of the 1951 Autonomy Act. The Government of Ǻland disputed the reasoning of Mr. Oinas. According to its submission, the clause in the Autonomy Act on the right to appeal against the decisions of the Ǻland Government to the Supreme Administrative Court did not apply to the decisions on the right of domicile. The 1950 Law on the Right to Appeal in Administrative Affairs (154/50) would likewise not be applicable, as the Ǻland Government was not mentioned in it as one of the authorities the decisions of which could be appealed against.

- The Supreme Administrative Court decided to give a plenary judgment. In this the Court quashed the decision of the Government of Ǻland. In its majority opinion the Court stated that a Finnish citizen who had for at least five years without interruption been residing in Ǻland should be granted the right of domicile, unless weighty reasons existed. The decision of the Ǻland Government caused that certain rights that according to Section 5 of the Constitution Act were to belong equally to all Finnish citizens were restricted. As the 1951 Autonomy Act did not explicitly establish knowledge of Swedish as a precondition for acquiring the right of domicile, this right could not be refused on the grounds invoked by the Government of Ǻland. The case was therefore returned by the Court to the Ǻland Government for reconsideration.