Tuesday 28 July 2009

First Single Judge Decisions at the Court

This month, the Court has started to use the possibilities offered by the reforms of Protocol 14-Bis to the ECHR. The most important innovations are that single judges can now declare manifestly ill-founded cases inadmissible and that committees of three judges can decide on the merits of legally easy cases (issues which have already been dealt with by the Court - this will often be so-called repetitive cases). The single judges are never from the country against which the relevant applications are lodged. The procedure already applies to some larger countries, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, but also others including Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands. More countries have already followed suit.

For more information, see my earlier post on Protocol 14-Bis, the Court's press release on single judge decisions and the addendum to the Rules of Court. You may also want to consult the Explanatory Report.

In the short run, matters seem to get more complicated as the procedure may now vary from country to country (depending on acceptance of Protocol 14-Bis), but at least it may for a small part solve some of the case load problems of the Court. A real solution would of course be that Russia would finally ratify the orginal reform Prtocol 14. And even then, further innovations would probably be necessary to keep the Strasbourg machinery running instead of grinding slowly to a halt.