Protection of rights in the European Court of Human Rights: documents and procedure
1. European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights is an international court the main purpose of which is control over adherence of human rights and liberties that are set by the European Convention on Human Rights [Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms| dated 04.11.1950] and its protocols. The European Court of Human Rights is situated in Strasbourg (France). Number of judges of the European Court of Human Rights corresponds with the number of states that ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and are members of the Council of Europe. Judges hear cases as independent persons and do not represent any particular state. When processing applications the Court is assisted by the Registry which mainly consists of lawyers from all member states of the Council of Europe.
2. Situations in which it is possible to apply to the ECHR
You think that your rights and liberties that are provided by the Convention and its protocols have been violated.
You think that violations of your rights and liberties that are provided by the Convention and its protocols have been caused by a state for which the Convention is in force.
You can file a complaint only regarding violations that a particular state authority can be liable for (administrative body, legislative authority, court, etc.). You cannot file a complaint against actions of individuals or non-governmental organizations.
You must have used all the remedies in the state concerned that might have been able to redress the situation you are complaining about.
3. Requirements that one has to comply with when filing his complaint to the ECHR
Terms that are set for lodging of complaints to the Court
- You have only six months from the date of the final decision at domestic level to lodge an application. These six months will be sufficient for you to file at least a brief with clearly defined demands.
- Court’s official languages include English and French. However when lodging your complaint to the Registry of the Court you can do it in an official language of one of the states that have ratified the Convention. Such languages in particular include Ukrainian and Russian.
- At the initial stage of proceeding the Court will communicate with you in language that was chosen by you for complaint lodging. At later stages, if the Court declares your complaint inadmissible and in turn offers the concerned state to explain its position regarding your complaint, the correspondence will be conducted in French or English. As a general rule, you or your representative will have to provide further information in English o French.
Correspondence with the Court
- In order to apply to the ECHR you can fill out standard application form of complaint (download). Also you can send a regular letter with clearly stated demands in which case you will receive an application form that is to be filled out in accordance with requirements listed in it.
- The letter and/or application form should be sent to the following address: The Registrar European Court of Human Rights Council of Europe F–67075 STRASBOURG CEDEX - FRANCE.
Representative or lawyer
- In order to apply to the ECHR you do not need to have a representative or a lawyer.
- If you wish to apply to the Court through a representative or lawyer you must send with the form your authority for him or her to act on your behalf (download power of attorney).
- Form of power of attorney is personally filled out by a claimant. It is signed by the claimant and his representative or lawyer who is authorized to represent him in the ECHR. It is not required to notarize the power of attorney.
Payment (fees) for applying to the Court
- Applying to the ECHR and hearing of case by the Court is free of charge.
- Once your application has been notified to the Government and the Court has decided that you require legal aid, you may apply for the legal aid.
4. Form and content of complaint that is filed to the ECHR
1. Information about parties. Information about applicant, his representative (if the complaint is lodged by a representative), information about defendant (the concerned state).
2. Provision of complaint details.
- You describe circumstances under which you rights had been violated.
- The description has to include quotations from decisions of national authorities which were made in your regard.
- It is required to refer to provisions of national legislation which you consider to be violated.
3. Indication of the Convention rights you think have been violated.
4. Final decision of a national body (date and type of the decision and body which made the decision).
Other decisions (chronological list of decisions, their dates and types and bodies which made the decisions).
5. Description of matter in controversy.
6. References to any other international organizations which had heard or are hearing the case.
7. List of attached documents (you send only copies of documents; do not bind documents by stapler, glue or in any other way).
8. Address, date and signature of an applicant or his representative.
5. The main stages of process that a complaint undergoes in the ECHR
1.1.You filled out application form and sent it to the Court.
1.2. You listed your demands in a regular letter and sent it to the Court. The Court can declare your complaint to be admissible. After this you will receive an application form to provide additional information.
2. When the form is received it will be registered and provided for the Court’s consideration.
3. СThe Court will send your complaint to the Government of you country with a request to provide comments regarding its admissibility.
4. Comments of the Government will be sent to you. You will have to respond to them.
5. The ECHR decides whether or not you complaint is admissible.
6. If your complaint is declared admissible, the Court will encourage you and the state concerned to reach a friendly settlement.
7. If no settlement is reached, you and the state concerned have to provide comments on the case or notify about additional details of the case.
8. The case is heard and the decision is made.
9. The concerned state is obligated to execute the decision. Execution of the decision is supervised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
More than 150 of our complaints have been already accepted by the European Court of Human Rights 1 .