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Advisory Jurisdiction and the European Court of Human Rights: A Magic Bullet for Dialogue and Docket-Control?

Dzehtsiarou, K and O'Meara, N (2014) Advisory Jurisdiction and the European Court of Human Rights: A Magic Bullet for Dialogue and Docket-Control? Legal Studies, 34 (3), 2014. pp. 444-468.

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Protocol 16 ECHR will provide for an extension of the advisory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), enabling highest national courts to request advisory opinions on questions of principle concerning the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or its Protocols. This extension of the ECtHR’s advisory jurisdiction aims to achieve two goals: a reduction in the ECtHR’s excessive docket, and the enhancement of dialogue between the ECtHR and (highest) national courts. While the aims of this reform initiative are laudable, we argue that Protocol 16 is likely to fail to achieve its objectives. Our analysis suggests that rather than facilitating the Court’s adjudicatory function, extended advisory jurisdiction has the potential to impact on the Court’s constitutionalist function in a manner which can be better achieved through the Court’s contentious cases. The burden this procedure will place on the Court’s already overstretched resources would risk delays to contentious cases and potentially undermine judicial comity should requests for advisory opinions be declined. Furthermore, evidence of ‘constructive’ dialogue between highest national courts and the ECtHR is emerging in contentious cases without the need for an extended advisory opinions mechanism. Rather than achieving its objectives, Protocol 16 risks exacerbating the Court’s backlog and nullifying the positive effects of advisory opinions on dialogue.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
O'Meara, Nn.o'
Date : 1 January 2014
DOI : 10.1111/lest.12025
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:19
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 14:22

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