The Court’s workload increased during the year. While the number of new applications`showed a significant decrease in 2015, the general upward trend of previous years resumed, with more than 53,000 applications allocated to judicial formations. In certain respects, the Court’s situation remained relatively stable. Thus the number of cases pending at the level of the Single Judge remained at a manageable level throughout the year. The number of repetitive cases increased and remains very high at almost 35,000. There was a substantial influx of high-priority applications, this category of applications standing at almost 20,000 by the end of the year. Many of the new applications raised complaints under Article 3 regarding prison conditions. A significant proportion of these relates to the situation in prisons in Hungary and Romania. Concerning the former, the situation was addressed in the Court’s
pilot judgment in the case of Varga and Others in 2015. In November 2016 the Fourth Section took the decision to adjourn examination of approximately 7,000 Hungarian cases until the
end of August 2017. This decision was taken in the context of the measures introduced by the national authorities to execute the Varga and Others judgment, including a remedy for those
who have experienced unacceptable conditions of detention and the easing of overcrowding by different means.
Along with the high number of priority applications, the Court also faces approximately 21,000 applications that are neither clearly inadmissible nor repetitive. Since these cases require in-depth judicial examination, it can be said that the greatest weight of the Court’s docket rests here. As a response to this, the Court introduced a new approach to such cases, involving immediate, simplified communication to the respondent State. This means that the case proceeds, in the initial stage at least, more quickly than under the usual approach of the Registry drafting a detailed summary of the facts for use as the basis for communicating
cases. Instead, the Registry forwards to the Government concerned the form filled out by the applicant, which, due to the strict application of Rule 47 (contents of an individual application)
and a simpler, clearer structure, ought to be sufficient to inform the respondent State of the claims being raised before the Court. The Court’s input at this stage is limited to indicating the subject matter of the application and setting out the questions the parties should address in their pleadings. The approach was introduced on a test basis in March 2016, in relation to twelve States. By the end of the year, close to 500 applications had been communicated to the Governments concerned. For the Court, the new approach is a manifestation of the idea of shared responsibility, which States have recognised in the various reform conferences.
It means a very concrete sharing of the task of taking cases through the initial stage of the procedure before the Court. The adversarial character of the procedure is maintained, since
the Government may contest any factual statement put forward by the applicant. Through earlier communication of the case, it should be possible to reduce the overall duration of the proceedings before the Court.
In this new edition of the Landmark Cases you will find all the important judgments and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. We have given the judgments and decisions
a special number from 1-140 and you can find them very fast in the 10 volumes of the series.
The special guide is a bigger index to the series where you can find all the information that you need on the cases and the articles of the European Convention.