How the Court works
Life of an application
The flow chart indicates the progress of a case through the different judicial formations. In the interests of readability, it does not include certain stages in the procedure – such as communication of an application to the respondent State, consideration of a re-hearing request by the Panel of the Grand Chamber and friendly settlement negotiations.
The life of an application (simplified diagram)
Case-processing flow chart before the Court
This flow chart indicates the progress of a case by judicial formation.
In 2009, the Court adopted a new policy concerning the order in which it deals with cases. According to this policy, the Court takes into consideration the importance and urgency of the issues raised when deciding the order in which cases are to be dealt with. Thus, the most serious cases and cases which disclose the existence of widespread problems will be dealt with more rapidly.
In a case before the Court, where a friendly settlement procedure has been unsuccessful, the respondent Government may make a declaration acknowledging the violation of the Convention and undertaking to provide the applicant with redress.
Over the past few years the Court has developed a new procedure to cater for the massive influx of applications concerning similar issues, also known as “systemic or structural issues” – i.e. those that arise from the non-conformity of domestic law with the Convention as regards the exercise of a particular right. The Court has thus recently been implementing a procedure that consists of examining one or more applications of this kind, whilst adjourning its examination of similar cases. When it delivers its judgment in the pilot case, it calls on the Government concerned to bring the domestic legislation into line with the Convention and indicates the general measures to be taken. It will then proceed to dispose of the adjourned similar cases in the light of the terms of the pilot judgment.
Rule 61: Pilot judgment procedure (entry into force 1st April 2011)
- Information visits for legal professionals and law students can be organised. In general, the programme includes the screening of a documentary “The Conscience of Europe” followed by a presentation on the role and work of the Court lasting approximately one hour. The presentation may also take place after the group has attended a hearing (see calendar of scheduled hearings).
- Information visits are organised only for groups comprising 25 people minimum. The minimum age of participants is 18 years.
- There are no guided visits of the building.
- Information visits only take place on working days. The Court is shut at the weekends and on public holidays.
- As we receive a very large number of requests, we recommend that you apply two months in advance.
- To book, please complete the Electronic form
Rules of security and conduct
- Strict punctuality is requested.
- The number of participants should not exceed that stated in the list of participants, which will be required beforehand.
- Appropriate dress is required.
- For security reasons, access is only given to those parts of the building that are open to the public. Access to the cafeteria is prohibited.
- The building does not have a left-luggage office. Suitcases are not accepted.
Please ensure that these instructions are followed.
Recruitment and traineeships
Recruitment at the Court
All vacancy notices for the different parts of the Council of Europe, including the Court’s Registry, are published on the website of the Council of Europe’s Human Resources Directorate.
Assistant lawyers’ scheme
The assistant lawyers’ scheme is open to law graduates and gives legal professionals at the start of their career who are nationals of one of the member States of the Council of Europe the opportunity to work at the Court for a fixed period, processing individual applications relating to their own country’s legal system. Posts are filled by means of competitive examinations which are advertised on the website of the Council of Europe’s Human Resources Directorate.
Traineeships at the Court
Legal professionals with a university degree in law and a sound knowledge of human rights issues, particularly in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights, may apply for a traineeship at the Court.
Court trainees work either in one of the legal divisions or in one of the following common services of the Court: the Case-law Information and Publications Division, the Just Satisfaction Division, the Research Division, the Press Unit, the Visitors' Unit or the Public Relations Unit. Reasons should be given for choosing a particular area of work within the Court. The electronic application form as well as all relevant information is available on the traineeship page of the Council of Europe.
Establishment of the Court 1959 (in French only)
First election of judges 1959 (in French only)
Opening of the judicial year 1960 (in French only)
First case referred to the Court 1960 (in French only)
Access to case files
Documents deposited with the Registrar are accessible to the public unless the President of the Court decides otherwise.