The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is an international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) in 1959. It considers applications alleging that a contracting state has infringed one or more rights set out in the Convention and its protocols. The Court is based in Strasbourg, France.
An application can be lodged by an individual, a group of individuals or a non-governmental organization. All 47 member states of the Council of Europe are contracting parties to the Convention.
Cases can be brought directly by individuals. It is sufficient to send the Court a duly completed application form with the requisite documents. There are no fees for proceedings before the Court.
The assistance of a lawyer is not necessary at the start of the proceedings. The assistance of a lawyer becomes necessary, however, once the Court has given notice of the case to the respondent Government for their observations. Legal aid may be granted to applicants, if necessary, from that stage in the proceedings. An applicant may be represented by a lawyer qualified to practice in one of the States Parties to the Convention and who speaks working languages of the Court (English or French).
If you decide to apply to the Court, please ensure that your application complies with Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, which sets out the information and documents that must be provided; otherwise your application will not even be examined.
An amended version of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, which sets out the conditions for applying to the Court and for lodging a complete and valid application, came into force on 1 January 2016.
Cases can only be brought to the Court after domestic remedies have been exhausted. Applications must also be lodged with the Court within six months following the last judicial decision in the case on domestic level (ex. judgment by the highest court). The applicant must be, personally and directly, a victim of a violation.
Criminal cases: TWO INSTANCES: first-instance and appeal (Kashlan v Russia, 19/04/2016)
Civil cases: FOUR INSTANCES: first-instance, appeal, cassation at the regional level and cassation at Supreme Court of Russia (Abramyan and Others v. Russia ((dec.), nos. 38951/13 and 59611/13, §§ 31-45, 12 May 2015)
Administrative cases (Code of Administrative Procedure): FOUR INSTANCES: first-instance, appeal, cassation at the regional level and cassation at Supreme Court of Russia (Chigirinova v Russia (dec.), 13 December 2016)
Commercial cases (Code of Commercial procedure): FOUR INSTANCES: first-instance, appeal, cassation at the regional level and cassation at Supreme Court of Russia (SAKHANOV v Russia (dec.), 18 October 2016).
When the Court finds violations against a State and observes that the applicant has sustained damage, it awards the applicant just satisfaction, that is to say a sum of money to compensate for that damage. Judgments finding violations are binding on the States concerned and they are obliged to execute them. The Committee of Ministers ensures that any sum awarded by the Court is actually paid to the applicant.