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Applications to the European Court of Human Rights

Applications to the European Court of Human Rights

The Firm acquired over thirty years of experience in litigation before the European Court of Human Rights, which now involves all types of human rights issues, from criminal litigation to issues relating to the right to life and health, to the fairness of the trial and its reasonable duration, to damages for environmental pollution, to the protection of vulnerable persons, to family and children issues, to the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, up to property issues, the protection of credit and legitimate expectation.

Since the 90s, the Firm has been representing natural and legal persons (associations, companies, committees and non-governmental organizations) before the Strasbourg Court, lamenting one or more violations of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Rome in 1950 and ratified by Italy in 1955 (the Convention was subsequently supplemented and amended by a series of Additional Protocols).

The Firm’s commitment to human rights is not limited to the provision of all appropriate forms of judicial protection, but it is also expressed in the field of promotion and dissemination of the culture of human rights at national and international level.

In this context, the Firm makes use of various instruments, among which it’s relevant to mention the active participation within the Unione forense per la tutela dei diritti umani in the multifaceted activity of building the awareness of institutions, legal operators and the general public.

In addition to playing a leading role in the organization of important conferences on the protection of rights (for instance, see the yearly Corso di specializzazione sulla Tutela europea dei diritti umani – Specialization Course on the European Protection of Human Rights, directed at lawyers, judges and other legal practitioners), the Firm makes a fundamental contribution to the quarterly journal published by Editoriale Scientifica entitled “Diritti dell’uomo. Cronache e battaglie”, which is a crucial means for the dissemination and in-depth study of the subject.

The wide network woven by the Firm with high-profile personalities in the field of human rights protection (lawyers, judges, university professors, members of international organizations and relevant bodies) favors a continuous flow of knowledge and expertise on the subject.

The conventional system for the protection of human rights

For years now, the European Court has played an irreplaceable role in the judicial guarantee of fundamental rights and freedoms. The system of the ECHR has a subsidiary character with respect to the forms of protection of human rights existing in the legal systems of Member States: in fact, article 35 of the Convention lays down the rule of “prior exhaustion of domestic remedies” in order to activate the international system.

Indeed, the objective of the Council of Europe, in line with the international principles on the protection of human rights, is to ensure the respect for human rights primarily by the domestic legal systems. However, over the years the submission of applications to the ECHR has spread considerably among the countries adhering to the Convention, suffice to say that, if the number of yearly applications to the Court until 1997 was around 5,000, said number has grown considerably, reaching a peak of almost 66,000 applications per year between 2010 and 2013.

To date, the Court has heard over 882,000 applications and delivered over 50,000 judgments. These numbers indicate that the violations that could be brought to the attention of the Strasbourg judges are frequent, but the possibility of this happening requires a thorough knowledge of the ECHR case law, which represents the fundamental parameter of interpretation of the rules of the Convention, as well as a scrupulous familiarity with the procedures provided by the Convention itself and by the Rules of Procedure of the Court for the submission of individual applications.

Unlike domestic litigation, the procedure before the Strasbourg Court does not entail financial burdens for the plaintiff, except for the costs of correspondence with the Court, which takes place by international registered mail, and the costs of the legal counselling. There are, in fact, no expenses to be sustained by way of unified contribution fee (like before Italian courts) for the introduction of the application, nor is there any risk of the petitioner being condemned to pay legal costs in favor of the defendant government in the event of rejection of such application.

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