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European Human Rights : Research Guide


Since 1998, the Commission's role over the parties' compliance with the Convention's norms has been phased out, as the Council has moved towards a single court system. Currently, the ECHR is the only judicial institution in the European human rights system.

The ECHR is set up under the Convention as amended and is composed of a number of judges equal to that of the Contracting States (currently forty five). Judges are elected by institutions of the Council of Europe and sit on the Court in their individual capacities and do not represent any State. They cannot engage in any activity that is incompatible with their independence or impartiality or with the demands of full-time office. Their terms of office expire when they reach the age of seventy.

The Plenary Court elects its President, two Vice-Presidents and two Presidents of Section for a period of three years.

The ECHR is organized into committees, Chambers, and Grand Chambers. The committees are set up by the Chambers for a fixed period of time and are comprised of three judges. The President of the ECHR, the Vice-Presidents, the Presidents of the Chambers, and the judge elected in respect of the State against which the application is lodged are always members of the Grand Chambers. The other judges completing any particular Grand Chamber are appointed on a case-by-case basis.

Committees declare a case admissible or strike it from the list. A claim becomes admissible if the petitioner has exhausted all domestic remedies available and presented substantially the same matter as the one brought up in front of the ECHR.

Admissible cases go to the Chamber, which reviews admissibility and decides the merits of the case. The Chamber's decision may reexamine by the Grand Chamber at the request of one of the parties.

The plenary court deals only with organizational matters.

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