Preparation of the application to the European Court
Although applicants are permitted to act on their own behalf before notification of their complaint to the Respondent Government, legal representation is mandatory at the subsequent stages.
After the application is declared admissible, the Court will ask the applicant about a lawyer who will act on his or her behalf in the proceedings before it.
It is important at this stage to choose the right lawyer, because the outcome of the applicant’s case in the ECHR will mainly depend on lawyer’s expertise and competence.
What to pay attention to when choosing a lawyer to represent you in the European Court:
does the lawyer have knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights;
does the lawyer know the case-law and jurisprudence of the European Court;
what experience does the lawyer have in defending human rights in the European Court’s proceedings;
does the lawyer know English and/or French.
It should be emphasized that the lawyer’s success with your case in the European Court to a large extend depends on how he bears himself: whether he or she pay respect to the Court and its judges, the Registry and the Respondent Government. It is important for the lawyer to act politely and professionally.
Participation of a lawyer in the European Court proceedings: functions, competences, duties
As a human rights lawyer practising before the European Court I can join proceedings at any stage, as soon as an applicant decides to use my services.
Judging from my extensive experience of work with the ECHR, I must admit that the applications to the Court are usually dismissed because of the applicants’ failure to comply with necessary formalities when filling in the application form. Sometimes even a small mistake can become fatal.
In view of this, I strongly recommend applicants to find professional lawyer at the initial stage, when they realise their need to apply to the European Court for human rights defense.
Participation of a legal representative in the European Court proceedings involves many factors and comprises a number of stages. The lawyer’s actions will depend on the stage at which the lawyer joins the proceedings.
Stages of lawyer’s participation in the European Court proceedings:
Preliminary legal consultation. At this stage I will define factual circumstances of the case, verify the existence of proofs confirming the facts to which the applicant refers, and determine whether the facts of the case fall within the competence of the Strasbourg Court. In other words, I determine the extent to which the case is admissible for examination by the ECHR.
Apart from it, my task is to explain the applicant admissibility criteria and all peculiarities of the Court’s work (order of case examination, subject matter of complaint, its results, etc.).
Preparation of the application form . I will assist you in properly preparing your complaint and sending it to the Court, with due regard to all the formalities, admissibility criteria and requirements posed by the ECHR.
It should be noted, that it is particularly important to comply with all formal requirements, because the Court often rejects complaints at the preliminary stage.
Representation before the Court after the case is admitted for examination. At this stage my duties include official correspondence with the Court (preparing timely responses to the ECHR’s letters, making necessary submissions and providing the Court with required documents); collecting additional evidence and submitting them to the Court if necessary, etc.
Participation in oral hearings in the European Court, if they take place, as the applicant’s representative (most of the cases are examined in written proceedings).
Apart from it, my functions include requesting the Court to render assistance in obtaining necessary documents in case the Respondent Government create obstacles in collecting them. For instance, it can be internal inquiries reports, criminal case-file materials, etc.