At its administrative plenary session on 9 September 2019 the European Court of Human Rights provisionally adopted amendments to the Rules Court, following proposals made to it by the Court’s Standing Committee.
Draft amendments to Rules 36 and 44 D of the Rules of Court (approved by the Court on 9 September 2019)
Rule 36 – Representation of applicants
1. Persons, non-governmental organisations or groups of individuals may initially present applications under Article 34 of the Convention themselves or through a representative.
2. Following notification of the application to the respondent Contracting Party under Rule 54 § 2 (b), the applicant should be represented in accordance with paragraph 4 of this Rule, unless the President of the Chamber decides otherwise.
3. The applicant must be so represented at any hearing decided on by the Chamber, unless the President of the Chamber exceptionally grants leave to the applicant to present his or her own case, subject, if necessary, to being assisted by an advocate or other approved representative.
4. (a) The representative acting on behalf of the applicant pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Rule shall be an advocate authorised to practise in any of the Contracting Parties and resident in the territory of one of them, or any other person approved by the President of the Chamber.
(b) In exceptional circumstances and at any stage of the proceedings in the examination of an application, the President of the Chamber may, where he or she considers that the circumstances or the conduct of the advocate or other person appointed under the preceding sub-paragraph so warrant, direct that the latter may no longer represent or assist the applicant in those proceedings and that the applicant should seek alternative representation.
5. (a) The advocate or other approved representative, or the applicant in person who seeks leave to present his or her own case, must even if leave is granted under the following sub-paragraph have an adequate understanding of one of the Court’s official languages.
(b) If he or she does not have sufficient proficiency to express himself or herself in one of the Court’s official languages, leave to use one of the official languages of the Contracting Parties may be given by the President of the Chamber under Rule 34 § 3.
Rule 44D – Inappropriate submissions by, or conduct of, the representative of a party
1. If the representative of a party in the proceedings makes abusive, frivolous, vexatious, misleading or prolix submissions, the President of the Chamber may […] refuse to accept all or part of the submissions or make any other order which he or she considers it appropriate to make, without prejudice to Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.
2. (a) The President of the Court may, in exceptional circumstances, where he or she considers that the conduct of the advocate, or of the person appointed under Rule 36 § 4 (a) so warrant, direct that the said advocate or other person may no longer represent or assist a party before the Court. Such exclusion order may be for a definite or indefinite period.
(b) Such a decision shall be reasoned and shall be taken upon a reasoned proposal by a Chamber, after the person concerned, the Government concerned, and if necessary, the Bar Association, are given the possibility of suggesting comments.
(c) Upon the reasoned request of the person concerned, the President of the Court may, after consulting the Chamber, the Government and any Bar Association concerned, restore the rights of representation.
As an association of Bar associations and Law Societies, the European Bars Federation has been invited to submit its comments (see below in French only) on these amendments.
The Presidency of the European Bars Federation would like to thank warmly Sara Chandler on behalf of the Human rights commission, Florenzo Storelli on behalf of the Ethics commission and Julien Martin, Avocat at the Strasbourg Bar association, member of its Board and of the Human rights commission of the Strasbourg Bar Association, for their precious contributions.