The applicants arrived to Austria in 1989 from the Soviet Union, and became stateless the same year. They applied for Austrian nationality in 1993, before fulfilling the ten year residency requirement, and the judgment considers whether their statelessness can be considered as a circumstance "worthy of special consideration" allowing for an exception to the ten year residency requirement.
The applicant was born in Austria to an Austrian mother and a father who was a refugee from Poland. The applicant argued that his father was stateless at the time of his birth (as this would lead to applicant being recognised as Austrian), and requested the authorities to accept his father's testimony as proof. The authorities concluded that the applicant's father was a Polish national solely on the basis of the Polish legislation, without evaluating the content of the testimony. The decision was declared unlawful on procedural grounds, as the testimony should have been taken into account.
If stateless individuals are not lawfully staying in the country, Contracting States may provide travel documents but the decision to grant them is discretionary, provided it is free from arbitrariness. A person applying for travel documents can be reasonably expected to return to their previous place of residence and apply for the nationality of their country of origin.