Who can bring a case to the Court?
Cases can be brought directly by individuals or states who believe their rights have been violated. So, the Convention differentiates between two types of individual applications :
- individual applications, lodged by an individual, group of individuals or a non-governmental organisation against one or more states;
- inter-state applications, brought by one state against another
Since the Court was established, almost all applications have been lodged by individuals.
The formal requirements
The Court first of all has to look at whether an application is admissible. To be admissible, it must fulfil certain conditions set out in the Convention. For example, applicants must prove that they have “exhausted all domestic remedies” (generally speaking this means that the highest court in their country has dismissed their complaint) and they must submit their application within six months of the final decision taken in their country.
If the application is deemed to be admissible, the Court encourages the parties (the applicant and the state concerned) to reach a friendly settlement. For example, a country might agree to pay compensation, and the application is withdrawn. If there is no friendly settlement, the Court then examines the “merits” of the case, ie, it looks at whether or not there has been a violation of the Convention.