European Court: procedure and practice » priority of examination

The Convention and the Rules of Court, however, give an applicant several opportunities to speed up the examination or his or her case quicker. In terms of priority all cases examined by the Court are divided into seven categories: urgent applications (involving risk to applicants’ life and health, concerning deprivation of liberty consequential to the alleged violation of the Convention, where the well-being of children is at stake, etc.); complaints affecting the effectiveness of the Convention system or raising important questions of general interest (e.g. structural or systematic problems not yet examined by the Court); complaints concerning the so-called “core rights” (Articles 2-5 § 1 of the Convention); other well-founded complaints; complaints falling with the category of the “well-established case-law”; applications raising issue from the standpoint of their admissibility; clearly inadmissible cases. The Chamber examining a case or its President may, however, of its own motion or upon the relevant request from an applicant, derogate from this categorisation and give priority to a particular case (Rule 41 of the Rules of Court) and to urgently communicate it to the Respondent Government (Rule 41 of the Rules of Court), thus commencing the principal proceedings in the case. It should be noted that requests for priority treatment and urgent notification of the complaint are granted in very exceptional case, mostly when the applicants can pass away until the end of proceedings in view of their old age, health condition, or where there is a real risk of physical harm to the applicant. Analysis of the relevant case-law of the Court shows, that Rules 40 and 41 of the Rules of Court are usually applied in cases concerning unlawful deprivation of liberty, ill-treatment or in the cases attracting media attention. Urgent notification of a case, does not, however, automatically guarantee that the Court will take decision or judgment in a swift manner, but it nevertheless can be used by the applicants as a serious argument in his or her communication with the domestic authorities.