Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters
Chapter 7: The contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to the rule of law
Before examining the contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to the rule of law, it seems useful to recall briefly its organisation, its competence and its role as a reviewing organ. The European Court should in the first place be seen as a ‘court’, ie a judicial body. It is composed of 47 judges, one per State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights. When a vacancy occurs, the relevant State Party submits a list of three names to the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly elects the judge out of that list. Judges serve on a full-time basis, which makes the Court a ‘permanent’ court, in session during the whole year. The Court is furthermore assisted by a registry, which is its ‘engine’: the registry plays a key role in identifying the manifestly inadmissible complaints and in dealing with these complaints, and its lawyers (around 300) prepare the drafts of decisions and judgments in the more complex cases. The Court sits in various formations. A single judge, assisted by a non-judicial rapporteur (a senior lawyer of the registry), can declare a complaint inadmissible, ‘where such a decision can be taken without further examination’, in proceedings that are extremely summary (Article 27 of the Convention).
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