The Pilot Judgment Procedure at the European Court of Human Rights: Possibilities and Challenges
Nomiko Vima (The Greek Law Journal), Vol. 57, pp. 1890-1902, 2009
15 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2009 Last revised: 11 Mar 2010
Date Written: November 27, 2009
The fiftieth anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights this year is an occasion for both celebration and apprehension. From a timid beginning the Court has grown into a full-time institution successfully dealing with thousands of cases each year. Its case law is generally perceived to be among the most developed and extensive of all international human rights institutions and most of its judgments are routinely implemented by the state parties to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
However, for over a decade dark clouds have been gathering over Strasbourg. The number of applications has been rising so sharply – partly due to the accession of a large number of new state parties to the ECHR – that the very work and survival of the Court seems to be at risk. It is precisely because of these high numbers that the Court has started to deal creatively with large-scale violations of human rights by way of so-called pilot judgments. This article will assess this new phenomenon which holds the promise of being the most creative tool the Court has developed in its first fifty years of its existence. First, it will look at what pilot judgments are and in which cases the Court has applied the pilot methodology. Secondly, the main reasons for setting up the pilot judgment procedure will be considered. Finally, this article will analyse the challenges the pilot judgment procedure faces, such as its legal basis and the position of applicants in comparable cases.
Keywords: ECHR, European Court of Human Rights, Pilot Judgments
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