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Lawyers from across Russia participated in a seminar on "The European Court of Human Rights: Effective Case Conduct"

October 14, 2008

Lawyers from different regions of Russia took part in a seminar on “The European Court of Human Rights:  Effective Case Conduct” organized by the Slavic Center for Law and Justice on October 13, 2008, in Moscow.

One of the primary organizers and leader of the seminar was lawyer Roman Maranov, managing partner of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ).  Other participants included Chief Rapporteur Nikita Ivanov, lawyer secretariat of the European Court of Human Rights on Russia; Sergei Chugunov of the SCLJ; Roman Lunkin, Director of the Institute of Religion and Law; Aidar Saltanov of the Church of Scientology of Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan; Igor Trunov from the Moscow Bar Association and others.

The seminar addressed a variety of topics related to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), ranging from main trends of ECtHR rulings against Russia, successful and unsuccessful case strategies in the ECtHR, drafting an effective complaint to the ECtHR, and effective use of the English language in the ECtHR.

Participants examined the difficulties posed by the apparatus and procedures of the Court, including the rules regarding entering statements and which statements the Court will consider first.  According to  Mr. Ivanov, the Strasbourg Court adopted the same number of decisions in the past year as it had in total over the past 50 years.  Each year the number of complaints to the Court has increased by 10%, with 100,000 recorded complaints currently waiting to be addressed.  Russia leads the nations in supplying complaints to the Court, accounting for 20-25% of all registered complaints.

Despite the volume of cases, Mr. Ivanov stressed that further development of the ECtHR is strictly limited as the Court's budget is determined by the Council of Europe, which itself has limited finances and expansion prospects.  Furthermore, an increase in the number of lawyers employed by the Court would not speed up the consideration of cases.  The Registry of the Court currently has around 600 people, along with technical staff.  This includes more than 300 lawyers, 35 of whom are from Russia. This small contingent of Russian lawyers was responsible for all 20,000 applications submitted from the Russian Federation.  On average, one lawyer can produce 25 major decisions of the European Court per year, or complete 150 drafts for committees of three judges.  With approximately 3,000 applications from Russia previously registered with the Court, the vast majority of new cases are likely to be rejected or delayed.  According to Mr. Ivanov, it will take the Court approximately three years to address a complaint, such that complaints filed in 2009 will not even be examined until 2012.

Mr. Ivanov provided participants with detailed explanations of the types of cases which the Court could consider priorities.  The first priority are cases in which there is imminent danger to a person's life or limb or there is a distinct possibility that the situation in question may soon become irreversible.  The second category of priority cases includes complaints in which the primary applicant is either very young or very old, such as child custody disputes.  The third type priority is given to cases addressing problems or flaws of a country's legal structure which could give rise to numerous violations within that state. An example of such a case is a challenge to existing Russian law barring prisoners from voting.  In some cases, the European Court may offer solutions to national governments and find that the government is taking adequate measures; then, that complaint loses relevance.  Mr. Ivanov reported that the new Russian commissioner to the European Court of Human Rights, Deputy Minister Georgy Matyushkin, made a good impression in Strasbourg and his team is eager to tackle the current backlog of Russian complaints.
In the photos: Lawyer Roman Maranov, Managing Partner of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, and Chief Rapporteur Nikita Ivanov, lawyer secretariat of the European Court of Human Rights on Russia.

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