The Principle of Legality in Criminal Law Under the ECHR
European Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 2, p. 192, 2010
18 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2009 Last revised: 26 Nov 2013
Date Written: November 16, 2009
This article critically analyses the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 7 ECHR. It sets out the details of the principle of legality (nullum crimen sine lege) in criminal law and examines the manner in which the Court has developed the principle to encompass three overlapping rules: only the law can define a crime and prescribe a penalty; the prohibition on retrospective criminal law and the prohibition on the imposition of harsher penalties. It also addresses the limitations on the principle and the Court’s attempt to ‘balance’ the nullum crimen principle against the spirit of the Convention in certain key cases.
Keywords: Legality, Human Rights, ECHR, Article 7, nullum crimen
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