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Åland Government interpreted the region's Administrative Procedure Act incorrectly

In the assessment of Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja, the Åland Government interpreted the region's Administrative Procedure Act incorrectly when it altered one of its decisions to the detriment of an involved party without enquiring whether he agreed to this. The Åland Administrative Procedure Act would have required that this enquiry be made.

A complaint in the matter was made to the Ombudsman by the leader of a group of divers. The Åland Government had in August 2010 granted him permission to conduct dives to the wreck of a Russian submarine, but later rescinded the permit because it was suspected that the submarine contained wartime explosives. However, the diver was granted permission to attach a commemorative plaque to the wreck.

Just over a week later, the police had sealed off the area where the submarine had been found, citing explosives as the reason. On the same day, the Åland Government had also rescinded its permission to attach the commemorative plaque, and the Border Guard had gone to the site to inform the diver, who was already there, of the decision.

The regional government had not enquired of the complainant whether he consented to altering the decision, because it took the view that the new decision, which protected the complainant's life and health, had been made for his benefit, and therefore had not presupposed his consent.  The diver disagreed, because what was involved was a diving permit that had already been granted to him.

In the assessment of Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja, the interpretation arrived at by the Åland Government is incorrect. The grounds presented can not be regarded as meaning a decision in accordance with the best interests of an involved party in the meaning of the region's Administrative Procedure Act.

The provincial government should have enquired of the party whether he consented to the decision being altered. If he had objected, the provincial government would not have had the power to revise the decision. In such a case, a correction would have presupposed rescission of the decision as an exceptional means of appeal.

The Deputy-Ombudsman drew the attention of the Åland Government to an action that had been contrary to the province's Administrative Procedure Act.

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Kristian Holman, tel. + 358 (0)9 432 3368.