The European Court of Human Rights is an international court that can only hear complaints from individuals, organizations and business entities that claim that their rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated. The Convention is an international agreement by which numerous European countries undertook to guarantee certain basic rights. The guaranteed rights are listed in the Convention itself, and also in Protocols No. 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13, which only some of the countries have accepted. In this regard, you should read all the attached texts.
The court cannot consider all types of complaints. Its powers are defined by the conditions of admissibility provided for by the Convention, which limit who can apply to the Court, when and for what reason. More than 90% of petitions considered by the Court are declared inadmissible. You should therefore check whether your complaints comply with the eligibility conditions described below.
The court can consider your case only
You should also keep in mind that the Court receives tens of thousands of complaints every year. The Court does not have the ability to consider trivial complaints, those that are repeated and do not make any sense, as well as those that do not belong to the type of cases that an international supervisory body should consider. Such complaints may be rejected as an abuse of the right to complain, which can also happen if the complainants use inappropriate, offensive or unpleasant language.
The court may also dismiss the case if it considers that the applicant is not significantly harmed and if it does not raise new human rights issues that should be examined at the international level.
For additional information on all these criteria, you can consult a lawyer or go to the Court's website, which provides information on admissibility requirements and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
The conditions that must be met in order for the application form to be accepted as complete are provided by Rule 47 of the Rules of Court (you can find it in the application package); additional information is provided in the Guidelines on the Initiation of Proceedings, which are an appendix to the Rules of Procedure and can be found on the Court's website (http://www.echr.coe.int/applicants). Practical explanations and advice are presented below; we advise you to read them before filling in the application form if you want to avoid mistakes that could lead to your application not being accepted as incomplete.
The petition form should be downloaded from the Court's website and filled in electronically, if possible. This will speed up the processing of your case.
Official languages The Court's languages are English and French, but, alternatively, if it makes communication easier for you, you can contact the Court's Secretariat in the official language of any of the countries that have ratified the Convention. At the initial stage of the proceedings, you can even receive correspondence from the Court in that language. Please also bear in mind that in the later stages of the proceedings, if the Court decides to ask the government of the respondent state to submit written comments on your complaints, all further correspondence will be conducted in English or French, and you or your representative will be asked to use English or French in subsequent submissions.
In order for the Court to accept the application, you must fill in all the relevant fields of the application form and submit all the necessary documents in the manner provided for in Rule 47. Please keep this in mind when filling out the application form and attaching the relevant documents.If you do not follow these instructions, the Court will not consider your case, nor will it register it in its case database, nor save any document from it.
Please note that the terms used in the application form and instructions are based on the Convention - any lack of gender in the language does not imply exclusion of gender.
Coded label field
If you have already communicated with the Court on the same matter and were provided with coded stickers, you need to stick the coded sticker in the box on the left near the top of the first page of the application.
A. The applicant
A.1. An individual
This section refers to a natural person appearing as an applicant, as opposed to legal entities, such as business entities or associations (section A.2).
1-9. If the application has more than one applicant, the required information should be submitted on a separate sheet of paper for each applicant individually. Please assign serial numbers to individual applicants, if there is more than one applicant. See also the section below: "Grouped applications and multiple applicants".
6. Address: The applicant must provide his postal address, not the address of his lawyer or representative, so that the Court can contact him if necessary. The applicant who does not have his own place of residence, nor permanent place of residence, should submit the number of his postal code or the address of a friend, as well as submit an appropriate explanation in this regard.
This section concerns the situation in which the applicants are legal entities, such as business entities, non-governmental organizations or associations, etc. If you are completing this section, you must also complete section D.1.
10-16. The name and contact information of the organization appearing as the applicant must be listed. If there are multiple applicants, this information should be submitted on the first page of the application form for each subsequent applicant individually. Please assign serial numbers to the applicants, if there is more than one applicant.
11. Identification number: provide the official identification number or the number assigned to the organization in the appropriate public register, if available.
12. The date of registration, establishment or status changes of the legal entity should also be entered for easier identification, where relevant.
Grouped applications and a larger number of applicants
When the petitioner or representative submits complaints on behalf of two or more petitioners whose petitions are based on different facts, a separate petition form should be filled out and all required information submitted for each individual. Documents that are important for the position of each individual applicant should also be attached to the corresponding application.
If there are more than ten applicants, in addition to the application form and documents, the representative should also submit a table listing the required identification data for each individual applicant. You can download such a table from the Court's website (see www.echr.coe.int/applicants). When the representative is a lawyer, the table should also be submitted in electronic form (on CD or USB).
In the case of a large number of applicants or a large number of submitted petition forms, the Court Secretariat may ask the applicants or their representatives to submit the text of their submissions or documents in electronic or other form. The Registry of the Court may give other instructions as to what should be done to enable efficient and speedy processing of the case.
Failure to follow the instructions of the Court Registry regarding the form or manner in which grouped applications or applications submitted by multiple applicants may result in the Court not considering your case (see Rule 47 §§ 5.1 and 5.2).
V. State/states against which the petition is filed
17. Check the box(es) in front of the country(ies) against which the petition is filed.
This section concerns the country or countries that you consider responsible for the subject of your complaint. Please note that complaints before the Court can only be filed against the states on the list, which are all signatories to the Convention.
S. Representative/Representatives of the individual as applicant
The person appointed as a representative in this section must sign in box no. 35; the applicant must sign in box no. 33.
S.1. A person who is not a lawyer
18-25. Some applicants may decide that they do not want or are unable to participate in the proceedings in person for health reasons or because of business or other incapacity. They can be represented by a person without legal education, e.g. a parent representing a child, guardian, family member or partner representing someone whose general or health condition makes it difficult for him to participate in the proceedings (eg an applicant who is in hospital or in prison). The representative must state in what capacity he represents the applicant or indicate his relationship with him, and submit his personal data and contact address. If you have completed section C.1, you must also complete section C.2 if you are represented by a lawyer (see section C.2 below).
S.2. A lawyer
26-32. The lawyer representing the applicant before the Court must provide his/her personal details along with all contact details. The applicant does not have to appoint a lawyer when submitting the application form. The applicant will be notified if the case reaches a stage in the proceedings where it is necessary to be represented by a lawyer. At that moment - after the decision of the Court to inform the government of the respondent state about the submitted application for its written statement - the applicant can receive free legal aid if he does not have sufficient funds to pay for the services of a lawyer and if the approval of such aid is considered necessary for the proper conduct of the proceedings. More detailed information on this will be sent to applicants in due course.
This section must contain original signatures.
33. The applicant must sign a power of attorney authorizing a representative to represent him, except in cases where the applicant is, for example, a child or lacks legal capacity and is unable to sign it. If a non-lawyer representative has appointed a lawyer on behalf of the applicant who is unable to sign the power of attorney, the representative should sign the power of attorney on behalf of the applicant.
34 and 36. The required date on the power of attorney is the date of signature of the applicant and his representative.
35. The lawyer or other person authorized by the applicant to submit the application form to the Court must sign the power of attorney as proof that he has accepted this obligation. In the absence of a signature, the Court Secretariat can continue to communicate only with the applicant, and given the lack of evidence that a representative is involved in the case.
Don't send a separate power of attorney form: The court requires that all important information related to establishing contact and identification be on the application form itself. The applicant and his representative must sign the power of attorney section during the preparation of the application itself: the lawyer should not send the application form and a separate power of attorney form unless there are insurmountable practical obstacles. Only if the applicant changes lawyers or appoints a lawyer after filing the application, the Court will accept a separate power of attorney form - although even then applicants should use the separate power of attorney form available on the Court's website, which contains all the necessary information. If a separate power of attorney is sent without a convincing explanation as to why it was unavoidable, the petition will be dismissed for failure to comply with Rule 47.
Electronic communication between the representative and the Court
The court launched eComms as a means of communicating electronically with the representative of the petitioning organization, kit is activated only if the Court informs the Government about the application.
57. The email address provided will be used to open an eComms account. It is recommended that representatives working in a law office provide a general email address so that the account can be used by multiple users within the office.
You must notify the Court of any change to the email address used for your eComms account.
For more information, see the general conditions on the eComms website (https://ecomms.echr.coe.int) as well as the Practice Direction on Electronic Submission of Applicants' Documents (www.echr.coe.int/practicedirections) (available in English only and the French language).
E, F and G: Subject of the petition
58-65. Be concise in your presentation. Provide the essential information regarding your case: key facts and decisions, as well as how your rights are affected, without providing irrelevant information or minor details. Do not quote extensively: you can always refer to the attached document. The facts of your case and your complaints should be presented in the space provided for in the application form, so that the Court will be able to determine the nature and substance of your application without looking at any other document. This information related to your case is essential for a proper and quick review of your application and must be found on the pages available to you within the application form and not in additional attachments. It should all be a clear and concise statement of facts, complaints and compliance with admissibility conditions that will be easy to read and free of unnecessary detail. It is not acceptable to leave these pages blank with the indication "see annex attached", for example. If you do not follow these instructions regarding the provision of important information in the limited space provided for this in the application form itself, the Court will not consider your case.
Along with the application form, the applicant can, if necessary, attach additional information or explanations in the form of an annex (a separate document) that must not exceed 20 pages (this does not include copies of decisions or attached documentation). This does not mean that you can start your presentation on the application form and then continue the text on additional papers until you reach a total of 20 pages. These 20 pages are an addition to the summary statement of facts, complaints and compliance with the conditions of admissibility that must be presented on the designated pages of the application form. New complaints cannot be highlighted in such an annex, which should serve only to elaborate on the complaints that have already been highlighted in the application form itself.
Keep in mind that, if the case is forwarded to the government of the respondent state for a statement, the applicant will have the opportunity to present his detailed arguments as well as to submit a response to the submission of the other party.
All statements must becompletely legible and if, in addition to the statement of facts, complaints and compliance with the conditions of admissibility on the application itself, additional submissions are attached, you must take into account that:
As a rule, all data contained in the application form and the documents you submit to the Court Registry will beavailable to the public, including information about yourself or third parties. Moreover, this data may also appear in the Court's database (HUDOC) available on the Internet, if the Court mentions it in the statement of facts prepared when the case is submitted to the government of the respondent State for a statement, in the decision on admissibility or on the deletion of the application from the list of the Court's case, or in the Court's judgment. Accordingly, the application form should contain only those data from your private life or the lives of third parties that are essential for understanding the case.
In addition, if you want anonymity (so that your identity is not available to the public), you need to explicitly emphasize this and state the reasons for deviating from the rules on publicity and availability of data in the procedure. The court may approveanonymity in exceptional and justified cases.
E. Statement of Facts
58-60. Be clear and concise. Please indicate the exact dates.
Present the facts chronologically. List the events in the order in which they happened.
If your complaints relate to several different situations (for example, to different court proceedings), please state the factual situation and the complaint for each of them separately.
It is essential that you provide all documents supporting your case, especially copies of relevant decisions or records of the measures you are appealing against: for example, a forced eviction decision or a deportation order. You must also provide written evidence to support your allegations, such as medical reports, witness statements, minutes, ownership documents or certificates of time spent in custody. If you are unable to provide copies of certain documents, you need to explain why.
F. Statement on the alleged violation or violations of the Convention and/or Protocol, as well as on the corresponding arguments
61-62. For each complaint presented, it is necessary to state the article of the Convention or Protocol to which you are referring and give a brief explanation of how it was violated.
Explain as precisely as you can why you are complaining to the Court, that is, present your complaints in relation to the Convention. State which provision of the Convention you rely on and explain why the facts you have presented constitute a violation of this provision. Explanations of this type must be given for each individual complaint.
G. Compliance with the admissibility conditions established by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention (information related to the use of domestic remedies as well as the four-month period)
63. Under this point, you need to show that you gave the state an opportunity to correct what was done, before you turned to the Court with international jurisdiction. This means that you must show that you have exhausted all available effective remedies that exist in the state to which the complaint relates.
For any complaint about the violation of the rights guaranteed by the Convention or the Protocols, please state the following:
It is necessary to attach copies of all the decisions of the courts and other authorities that made the decision, from the lowest to the highest; you must also submit copies of your pleadings or pleadings to the courts, as well as your appeals, to demonstrate that you have substantially raised at each level the violation of the Convention you are invoking before the Court.
You must also document that each of your complaints was submitted to the Court within four months from the date of the final decision in the domestic remedies procedure for that complaint. Hence, it is crucial to determine the date of the final decision. You must also provide proof of this, either by attaching a copy of the decision on which the date is visible or, if you did not receive a copy of the decision on the day it was adopted or when it was made public, proof of the date of delivery, for example by attaching a copy of the delivery note or a copy registered letter or envelope. In cases where there were no adequate legal remedies, you must document that you filed the complaint within four months of the action, measure or decision you are complaining about and submit material evidence of the date of that action, measure or decision.
64-65. Here you should state whether you had a legal remedy available that you did not use. In that case, also state the reasons for not doing so.
Additional useful information on the use of domestic remedies and compliance with the four-month deadline can be found in the Practical Guide to Admissibility Conditions (www.echr.coe.int/applicants).
N. Information related to other international proceedings (if any)
66-67. You need to state whether you have submitted the complaints from the petition to another international body, such as United Nations bodies, such as the International Labor Organization or the Human Rights Committee, or to an international arbitration panel. If so, it is necessary to provide details, including the name of the body to which you submitted your complaints, the relevant dates and a description of the course of the procedure that took place before it, as well as a description of the content of all decisions made. Also submit copies of all relevant decisions and other documents.
68-69. Previous applications to the Court or pending applications: you should also state whether, as the applicant, you have had or currently have other applications before this Court and, if so, the number or numbers of those applications . These data are necessary for the Court to maintain the orderliness of the files and to find them, as well as to process various petitions under your name.
I. List of accompanying documents
70. It is necessary to attach a numbered chronological list of all the judgments and decisions that you have referred to in sections E, F, G and H of the application form, as well as any other documents that you wish the Court to consider as evidence supporting your claims of a violation of the Convention ( minutes, witness statements, medical reports, etc.). Please indicate the page number of each document individually in the list of documents, so that the Court can easily find them. If you do not have enough space in the application form, you can add another page.
You should attach complete and legible copies of all documents listed in the document list.
The document will not be returned to you. Therefore, it is in your best interest to send copies, not originals.
REMINDER: It is up to the applicant to gather all the information and documents necessary for the application to be considered duly completed. If you do not submit one or more relevant documents, your application will not be considered complete and the Court will not consider it, unless you have provided an adequate explanation as to why you were unable to submit the document or. missing documents.
Submissions with suspicious items attached will be destroyed for security reasons.
Declaration and signature
This section must contain original signatures.
72-73. The statement must be signed by each applicant or authorized representative. No one else can do that for them.
Designation of a contact person
74. The Court Secretariat carries out correspondence only with one applicant or one representative, so if there are several applicants who do not have a representative, one applicant will be designated as the person with whom the Court Secretariat will communicate. In cases where the applicant has a representative, the Court Registry will communicate exclusively with one representative. Therefore, the applicant who has more than one representative must determine which representative will carry out correspondence with the Court.
The application to the Court is submitted exclusively by post (not by phone). This means that a paper copy of the application form with the original signatures of the applicant(s) and/or authorized representative(s) must be sent by post. A petition received by fax is not considered a complete petition, and considering that the Court requires a petition form with an original signature.There is no need to come to Strasbourg in person to present the case orally.
You can download the application form from the Court's website (www.echr.coe.int/applicants).
Send your application to the following address:
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 STRASBOURG CEDEX
The case will be registered, and the correspondence and documents will be saved in the Court only if a completely filled application form with supporting documents has been received.
Upon receipt of the application form, the Court Secretariat will check whether it contains all the necessary information and documents. If they are not, you will receive a reply informing you that you have not acted in accordance with Rule 47, that the case has not been registered and that the documents have not been preserved. You will then have the option to submit a new application: this involves submitting a fully completed application form with all relevant documents and decisions, even if you have previously submitted some of this information. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted.
The Registry of the Court cannot provide you with information about the law of the country against which you are filing a complaint, nor legal advice regarding the application and interpretation of domestic law.
When submitting your application form, you should keep a copy of it, along with the original documents. Thus, in the event that the Court Secretariat informs you that the petition was not complete, you could, if you wish, send a new, complete petition form without difficulty and unnecessary delay. It is not certain that if the application is rejected as incomplete, you will have enough time to submit a new application form before the end of the four month period. For this reason, you should take care to submit the complete application form with all necessary supporting documents on time.
If the submitted application form is properly filled out, the Court Secretariat will inform you that it isyour case registered in your name (you must then refer to the assigned number in all your future addresses to the Court) and provide you with coded stickers, which you should affix when sending each subsequent submission to the Court.
In the first letter, the Registry of the Court may ask you to provide additional information or clarifications. It is in your interest to respond to all correspondence from the Court Secretariat as soon as possible, given that newly opened cases that are not active are destroyed after six months. Also, keep in mind that, when the Court starts considering the case, any delay or failure to respond to letters from the Court Secretariat, as well as failure to provide requested information or documents, may lead to the conclusion that you do not want your case to be considered further. The consequence of this may be that the Court does not consider the application, that a decision is made on inadmissibility or that the application is deleted from the Court's list of cases.
The court deals with your case free of charge. ABOUT every decision of the Court you will be informed.