Yearbook of European Law - Vol. 4

By A. Barav; D. A. Wyatt | Go to book overview

The United Kingdom Before the European
Court of Human Rights*

FRANÇOISE J. HAMPSON


A. Introduction

It is commonly asserted that the United Kingdom has been found in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights more often than any other signatory and that it has consistently been the subject of more applications for alleged breaches than any other State.1 Irrespective of the truth of such claims, they create a climate in which the European Convention is seen as posing a problem. For some, the problem is that of interfering Europeans;2 for others it is the frustration of inadequate domestic remedies,3 necessitating recourse to the cumbersome and lengthy Convention procedures.4 The actual measurement of the number of Convention breaches raises certain difficulties.5 It is important to treat the statistics with caution. It may not be clear precisely what they reveal. It is the case, nevertheless, that the United Kingdom has, relatively frequently, been found to be in breach of the Convention.

____________________
*
© FranÇoise J. Hampson, 1989, Lecturer in Law, Centre of Human Rights, University of Essex. The author would like to thank Professor Kevin Boyle for his very helpful comments on a draft of the article.
1
For example, The Independent, 30 Nov 1988, 3; Survey of Activities and Statistics, European Commission of Human Rights 1988; McBride, ' "The European Convention on Human Rights and the Protection of Civil Liberties in the UK"' in Wallington (Ed), Civil Liberties 1984 ( Martin Robertson 1984), 201, 204.
2
For example, Hansard, HC Deb ( 1974-5) Vol 894, col 530w; ( 1984-5) Vol 67, col 532.
3
One of the issues in the debate concerning a bill of rights; see generally Jaconelli, Enacting a Bill of Rights; the Legal Problems ( Oxford University Press 1980); Zander, A Bill of Rights? 3rd ed ( Sweet & Maxwell 1985); Wallington & McBride, Civil Liberties and A Bill of Rights, ( Cobden Trust 1976); Campbell (Ed), Do we need a Bill of Rights? ( Temple Smith 1980); see generally, Duffy, ' "English Law and the European Convention on Human Rights"', 29 ICLQ 585 ( 1980).
4
ECHR, Collected Texts, Council of Europe. For a succinct analysis of the deficiencies of the system and proposals for reform, see the Swiss Report, 'Functioning of the Organs of the European Convention on Human Rights', European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 19-20 Mar 1985; ' "Merger of the European Commission & European Court of Human Rights"', 2nd Seminar on International Law and European Law, University of Neuchatel, 8 HRLJ Pt 1 ( 1987).
5
If there are several applicants whose cases have been joined, does a violation count once or once for each applicant', eg case of Young and Webster, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 44; case of Campbell and Cosans, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 48; case of Silver and Others, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 61; case of Campbell and Fell, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 80; case of Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 94; 0 and H v UK, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 120; W, B, and R v UK, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 121; case of Brogan and Others, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 145. If the same problem comes before the Court a second time because the application had been filed before the Government could remedy the breach found in the first case, does this count as a separate violation? eg. case of Engel and Others, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No 22; case of De Jong, Baljet and Van Den Brink, Eur Ct HR, Series A, No. 77; case of Van der Sluijs,

-121-

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