Don’t mess up your European Court of Human Rights application… a new rule

how-I-feel-while-filling-out-forms-640x425I don’t usually post about court procedure, but as any lawyer knows, a failure to comply with what may seem like boring  court rules can lead to a case being struck out before it even begins – this is what we in the trade call a “bad outcome”. In the UK context, see this terrifying recent Court of Appeal judgment

Well, the European Court of Human Rights will from 1 January 2014 be toughening up its procedure rules with a new Rule 47 of the Rules of Court. Essentially, if you don’t get the forms right and provide the required information, your case will be rejected outright. This is part of the strategy to minimise the court’s enormous caseload. The changes are summed up in this handy press release – key extracts below:

The first change concerns the information and documents supplied to the Court to enable it to examine applications and hence perform its mission as effectively as possible. Any form sent to the Court must in future be completed in full and accompanied by copies of the relevant documents. All incomplete applications will be rejected by the Court.

The second change concerns the interruption of the period within which an application must be made to the Court, that is, within six months from the final decision of the highest domestic court with jurisdiction; for the period to be interrupted, the application will now have to fulfil the conditions set out in Rule 47. The form must be sent to the Court, duly completed and accompanied by the relevant documents, within the period laid down by the Convention. Incomplete files will no longer be taken into consideration for the purpose of interrupting the running of the six-month period.

You have been warned!

And whilst I’m here, this afternoon you can watch a live hearing from Strasbourg (the Grand Chamber) in Hassan v. the United Kingdom, concerning territorial jurisdiction and the British armed forces in Iraq. Should be very interesting. Press release here.

4 thoughts on “Don’t mess up your European Court of Human Rights application… a new rule

  1. Is this to ensure litigants-in-person have even less of a hope in Hades of accessing justice than they already have?

  2. My six months time limit runs from 15th July 2013, so it expires (presumably) on 14th January 2014. On 3rd December, I telephoned the court, and was advised to send a letter to the court, which I composed and signed that day, posting it the following day to the court. I was told that I would be sent an application form in response to the letter, and that the letter would “stop the clock” so-to-speak. Is this news story telling me that the long-established procedure that I am following on the court’s own advice (send a letter, and then return the form that that letter elicits) has been abolished? What if I have had no response to my letter, in the days leading up to the 14th January deadline?

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