The establishment of the ECHR was considered revolutionary at the time, and its activity has since been regarded as a success. Experts explain its success due to the Court's special status in regard to that of national courts. For example, all applicants are required to exhaust domestic remedies before coming to either the Commission or to the ECHR. In the instances in which the Convention has been adopted as part of the member states' domestic law, the ECHR has been compared to a Constitutional Court that can be found in all the state members of the Council of Europe.
The procedure before the European Court of Human Rights is adversarial and public. Individual applicants may submit applications pro se, but legal representation is recommended and sometimes required. The Council of Europe has set up a legal aid scheme for applicants who do not have sufficient means.
The official languages of the Court are English and French, but applications may be drafted in any one of the official languages of the Contracting States.
The Grand Chamber's judgments are final and binding in international law. Similarly binding are the Chamber's judgments that are not appealed.
At the request of one of the Council's institutions, the Committee of Ministers, ECHR may give advisory opinions on legal questions concerning the interpretation of the European Human Rights Convention and its Protocols.
The 104 procedural rules are organized in four titles, and they can be researched based on their subject matter, as follows.
The first two titles are further divided into chapters.