Key facts of the case:
T.W. was given a conditional sentence for assault and battery by the “Värmland District Court” on 10 April 2013. When the sentence became legally binding, the “Police Authority Värmland” decided to revoke T.W’s licence to possess firearm and ammunition, since he was considered unsuitable to keep it. On 24 May 2013, T.W. appealed to the Administrative Court, demanding that the Police Authority’s decision should be overruled. The Administrative Court overruled the decision of the Police Authority. The Police Authority appealed to the Administrative Court of Appeal in Gothenburg, which approved the appeal and also ruled in accordance with the earlier decision of the Police Authority Värmland. T.W. in turn appealed this ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court. The key legal question was if the Swedish legislation for revocation of weapon licences, article 6.1 paragraph a of the Weapons Act, is contrary to the prohibition of dual trials and dual punishments for the same crime as stipulated in article 4.1 in the Seventh protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and in article 50 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, when the revocation is based on an already existing criminal sentence (ne bis in idem). If this is proven to be the case, the following question is whether in that case can be said to be any legal grounds for the decision to revoke the weapon licence.
The Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling stipulates that the Swedish procedure for revocation of a license to possess firearms cannot be considered to be of a part of criminal law, but is rather a part of administrative law. As a consequence, the revoking of a licence cannot be seen as a violation of the prohibition of dual trial and dual punishment for the same crime as it is stipulated in article 4.1 of the European Convention‘s Seventh Additional Protocol and article 50 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Outcome of the case:
T.W.’s appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Administrative Court. As a consequence the first decision of the Police Authority Värmland was enforced.
1. Title: Reasons for adjudication/ What the case concerns
The key legal question is whether the Swedish legislation for revocation of weapon licence is contrary to the prohibition of dual proceedings and dual criminality as of article 4.1 in Seventh protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 50 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, when the revocation is based on a criminal sentence (ne bis in idem). If it is found that this is not the case, then the following question will be whether there are any legal grounds for revocation of Torbjörn Wik‘s weapons licence.
2. Title: The legal regulation
The corresponding provision exists in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Charter of Rights). According to Article 50, no legal processes or punishment can be brought to a person for an offense for which he or she has already been acquitted or convicted for within the Union by a legally binding judgment in accordance with the law.
3. Title: The assessment of the Supreme Administrative Court / The prohibition of dual legal processes and dual criminality
On the basis of the European Court ruling 8 June 1976 in the case of Engel and others vs. the Netherlands, which, inter alia, concerned the application of Article 6 in the ECHR, three criteria have been elaborated in assessing what can be regarded as part of the criminal law in contrast to the procedures related to administrative or disciplinary sanctions. The so-called Engel criteria are 1) the legal classification of the infringement in domestic law, 2) the nature of the infringement, and 3) the severity and nature of the sanction. These criteria have been applied both by the European Court of Human Rights and by the Court of Justice of the European Union in interpreting the prohibition of dual proceedings and dual criminality in Article 4.1 of the Additional Protocol and Article 50 of the Charter of fundamental rights (see, eg Zolotukhin p. 53, and Case C-617/10 Åkerberg Fransson p. 35).
4. Title: The Swedish proceeding for revocation of weapon permit
The Supreme Administrative Court found that the Swedish procedure for revocation of a license to possess firearms cannot be considered to be part of criminal law (straffrättslig natur). It is thus not in violation of the prohibition of dual processes and dual sentencing in Article 4.1 of the European Convention Seventh Additional Protocol and Article 50 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.