Folke Pudas versus Sweden.

Folke Pudas, born in Hietaniemi, Sweden on July 2, 1930 was a Swedish taxi driver who in 1980 received permission from the county administration board to operate a scheduled transport service in Norrbotten. The permit had no expiry date but yet one year later, the Aktiebolaget Länstrafik in Norrbotten successfully applied for a permit that covered the route covered by Folke’s licence and later in that same year, Folke’s permit was revoked.

Folke raised the issue with the Transport Council arguing that his licence had been withdrawn unlawfully, that it was not in the better interests of traffic conditions within the region. His appeal was rejected and so he went to the Ministry of Communications, but they also rejected his complaint.

At this point, Folke had exhausted all his legal options in Sweden. Unwilling to give up, he sought justice through the European Court of Justice, arguing that Article 6 of the European Convention had been violated on the basis that he was unable to have the revocation of the permit reviewed. Consequently, the European Court had to assess whether there were sufficient means in Sweden for appeals to be heard.

In order to create debate and raise awareness about his plight, Folke Pudas went on a hunger strike for 3 months in 1983, lying in a hand-nailed wooden box (now famously referred to as a Puda box) on Sergels torg, in front of the Swedish Parliament’s then (temporary) premises in the current Kulturhuset in Stockholm.

In 1987, the European Court of Justice ruled that Norrbotten’s county administrative board and the Swedish government had acted incorrectly. As a result of this, the Swedish state introduced a new administrative law, appropriately named “Lex Pudas” in honour of Folke’s contribution, which would prevent similar cases from occurring and so allowing for administrative decisions to be reviewed by a court.

The TIDLÖS team salutes the forgotten hero, Folke Pudas, who passed away July 28, 2008 in Övertorneå, Sweden. His struggle is an inspiration to us all. Against all the odds, and only as a result of great personal determination and sacrifice, he single-handedly fought bureaucracy and forever changed the rules of litigation in Sweden for the benefit of us all.

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