What is the European Court of Human Rights?

The primary purpose of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is to protect and apply the rights that are set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The system was reformed in 1998 to eliminate the European Commission of Human Rights which was previously in place to oversee friendly settlements, and some cases were referred to court. Now with the new system, individuals are permitted to submit their claims directly to the European Court of Human Rights.

The History of the European Court of Human Rights

The ECtHR is an entirely separate organization and is nothing to do with the European Union. It is part of the Council of Europe which made up of a total of 47 European Nations. Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Britain are members. The ECtHR is a classed as a regional human rights judicial body. It is based in Strasbourg, France; this is why it is sometimes referred to as “Strasbourg Court.” The European Court of Human Rights first came into place in 1959 and had since conveyed over 10,000 judgments about any alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

What is the structure of the ECtHR?

A system is put in place for the court to revolve as many cases simultaneously, and to do so; it is organized into five sections which each have their judicial chamber. Each of the sections has a President, Vice President, and numerous judges. All of forty-seven of the judges are elected through the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; they are selected from a list of proposed applicants by each member of the state. In the court itself, the judges work in four judicial formations. If an application is received then it will be given to one of these formations:

  • Single Judge: this formation only rules on the admissibility of claims, based on tangible and inadmissible evidence submitted by the applicant.
  • Committee: it is made up of three judges, and the committee will rule on both the admissibility and merits of the case provided. If a case has an issue, then the decision has to be unanimous between all three judges
  • Chamber: this is formed of seven judges, and their primary purpose is to make rulings based on the admissibility or merits of cases that have had issues and have not had a decision by a majority. Each chamber is made up of a Section President and National Judge. The Nation Judge represent the Nation of the State that the application has been lodged against.
  • Grand Chamber: composed of 17 judges, the primary purpose of the Grand Chamber is to hear a select number of cases that have been referred to directly on an appeal via a Chamber decision, or if the application has been relinquished by the chamber, this occurs when the case involves an important question. Once an application has been submitted it never goes to the Grand Chamber first, it is always via a referral from the Chamber. The Grand Chamber is primarily made up of the President, Vice-President, the National Judge and the five section Presidents.

Applying the ECtHR

If you need to apply to the ECtHR, then there is an application form available online and will need to be completed in its entirety. You will need to submit copies of any documentary evidence that will help your case. All cases are to be sent via post. A lot of the applications received by the ECtHR have been “struck” from the list due to undeclared evidence or if they fail to meet one or more of the requirements in the admissibility criteria.

All of the application must comply with Article 47 for your claim to be successfully accepted. We can help you with any legal guidance if you feel that your Human Rights have been violated by your state. We can offer advice regarding your application, and ensure that all evidence is correctly declared before submitting your application to the ECtHR. The court itself examines your application and will decide if your claim meets all of the requirements.

If you feel that you have a valid admission, and meet the requirements, then speak to our legal team at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors