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General and Particular Approaches to Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights

  • VLADIMÍRA PEJCHALOVÁ GRÜNWALDOVÁ

Abstract

This article deals with the implementation, at the national level, of European human rights protection standards as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). It discusses the principles of interpretation of the ECHR by the ECtHR, the interaction and mutual dialogue between the ECtHR and national courts, and the approach of the latter to interpretation and application of the case law of the ECtHR. Using the concrete examples of France and the Czech Republic as case studies, it is shown to what extent and how European constitutional courts take into account and apply the letter of the Convention and its interpretation by the ECtHR.

Cet article traite de la mise en œuvre, au niveau national, des normes européennes de protection des droits de l’homme telles qu’énoncées dans la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme et interprétées par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (Cour). Il examine les principes d’interprétation de la Convention par la Cour, l’interaction et le dialogue mutuel entre la Cour et les juridictions nationales, ainsi que l’approche de ces dernières en matière d’interprétation et d’application de la jurisprudence de la Cour. À partir des exemples concrets de la France et de la République tchèque, il est illustré dans quelle mesure et comment les instances constitutionnelles européennes prennent en compte et appliquent la lettre de la Convention ainsi que son interprétation par la Cour.

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1 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 4 November 1950, 213 UNTS 221 (entered into force 3 September 1953), art 1 [ECHR]: “The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.” It follows from art 1 that member states must answer for any infringement of the rights and freedoms protected by the ECHR committed against individuals placed under their “jurisdiction.” The exercise of jurisdiction is a necessary condition for a contracting state to be able to be held responsible for acts or omissions imputable to it that give rise to an allegation of the infringement of rights and freedoms set forth in the convention (see e.g. Ilaşcu and Others v Moldova and Russia [GC], No 48787/99, [2004] VII ECHR 179 at para 311; Mozer v Republic of Moldova and Russia [GC], No 11138/10, [2016] ECHR 213 at para 97). The concept of “jurisdiction” for the purposes of art 1 of the ECHR reflects the term’s meaning in public international law (see e.g. Banković and Others v Belgium and Others (dec) [GC], No 52207/99, [2001] XII ECHR 333 at paras 59–61; Gentilhomme, Schaff-Benhadji and Zerouki v France, No 48205/99 (14 May 2002) at para 20; Assanidze v Georgia [GC], No 71503/01, [2004] II ECHR 221 at para 137). From the standpoint of public international law, the words “within their jurisdiction” in art 1 of the ECHR must be understood to mean that a state’s jurisdictional competence is primarily territorial (see e.g. Banković, ibid at para 59; Mozer, ibid at para 97).

2 See e.g. Sweet, A Stone & Keller, H, “The Reception of the ECHR in National Legal Orders” in Keller, H & Sweet, A Stone, eds, A Europe of Rights: The Impact of the ECHR on National Legal Systems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 10. The authors note that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is not only endowed with “exclusive” and “final” jurisdiction over “all matters concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention” but that it also has authority to ensure that states parties meet the obligation to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the ECHR. Such authority of the ECtHR “is largely insulated” from the control of the states parties.

3 The ECtHR has consistently held that the scope of this margin varies according to the circumstances, the subject matter, and the background. A wide margin is usually allowed to states under the ECHR not only when it comes to general measures of economic or social strategy but also when it comes to delicate moral problems where there is no consent among the states parties. Because of their direct knowledge of their society and its needs, the national authorities are, in principle, better placed than the international judge to appreciate what is in the public interest on social or economic grounds, and the ECtHR generally respects the legislature’s policy choice unless it is “manifestly without reasonable foundation.” See e.g. James and Others v United Kingdom (1986) 98 ECHR (Ser A) 2 at para 46; National & Provincial Building Society, Leeds Permanent Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society v United Kingdom, [1997] VII ECHR 87 at para 80; Stec and Others v United Kingdom [GC], No 65731/01, [2006] VI ECHR 131 at para 52; Tkachevy v Russia, No 35430/05 (14 February 2012) at para 36.

4 See e.g. Laffranque, J et al, “Subsidiarity: A Two-Sided Coin?” (Background Paper to Seminar to Mark the Official Opening of the Judicial Year 2015, 30 January 2015) at 4, online: <http://wwww.echr.coe.int/Documents/Seminar_background_paper_2015_ENG.pdf> ; Bjorge, E, Domestic Application of the ECHR: Courts as Faithful Trustees (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) at 186. From the ECtHR’s case law, see e.g. García Ruiz v Spain [GC], No 30544/96, [1999] I ECHR 87 at para 28 [García Ruiz], in which the ECtHR held that “it is not its function to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention.” See also Anheuser-Busch Inc v Portugal [GC], No 73049/01, [2007] I ECHR 39 at para 83, in which the ECtHR reiterated that “its jurisdiction to verify that domestic law has been correctly interpreted and applied is limited” and that “it is not its function to take the place of the national courts, its role being rather to ensure that the decisions of those courts are not flawed by arbitrariness or otherwise manifestly unreasonable.”

5 Such as, in regard to religious symbols in classrooms in Lautsi v Italy [GC], No 30814/06 (18 March 2011) at para 68; see also e.g. Vo v France [GC], No 53924/00, [2004] VIII ECHR 67 at para 82 [Vo]. The ECtHR held that “[i]t follows that the issue of when the right to life begins comes within the margin of appreciation which the Court generally considers that States should enjoy in this sphere, notwithstanding an evolutive interpretation of the ECHR, a ‘living instrument which must be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions’. The reasons for that conclusion are, firstly, that the issue of such protection has not been resolved within the majority of the Contracting States themselves, in France in particular, where it is the subject of debate and, secondly, that there is no European consensus on the scientific and legal definition of the beginning of life.”

6 See Merrills, JG & Robertson, AH, Human Rights in Europe: A Study of the European Convention on Human Rights, 4th ed (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001) at 223–27; Rook, D, Property Law and Human Rights (London: Blackstone Press, 2001) at 3233; Gauksdóttir, G, The Right to Property and the European Convention on Human Rights: A Nordic Approach (Lund: Lund University Press, 2004) at 2021; Paulus, A, “Subsidiarity: Dialogue between the Court and National Courts” in Proceedings of the MultiRights Annual Conference on the Long-term Future of the European Court of Human Rights (Oslo, Norway: Council of Europe, 7–8 April 2014) 55 at 5657 [MultiRights Proceedings].

7 Protocol No 15 Amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 24 June 2013, CETS No 213, online: <https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Protocol_15_ENG.pdf> [Protocol No 15]. Art 1 of Protocol No 15 inserts a new recital to the preamble of the ECHR, as follows: “Affirming that the High Contracting Parties, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, have the primary responsibility to secure the rights and freedoms defined in this Convention and the Protocols thereto, and that in doing so they enjoy a margin of appreciation, subject to the supervisory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights established by this Convention.”

8 Vallianatos and Others v Greece [GC], No 29381/09 (7 November 2013) at para 91. See further Dzehtsiarou, K, “Interaction between the European Court of Human Rights and Member States: European Consensus, Advisory Opinions and the Question of Legitimacy” in Flogaitis, S & Fraser, J, eds, The European Court of Human Rights and Its Discontents: Turning Criticism into Strength (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2013) 122.

9 See e.g. Animal Defenders v United Kingdom [GC], No 48876/08 (22 April 2013) at para 123. The ECtHR stated that there was no European consensus between contracting states on how to regulate paid political advertising in broadcasting. It underlined that while there might be a trend away from broad prohibitions, it remained clear that there was a substantial variety of means employed by the contracting states to regulate such advertising, reflecting the wealth of differences in historical development, cultural diversity, political thought, and, consequently, democratic vision of those states. According to the ECtHR, this lack of consensus also broadens the margin of appreciation to be accorded in regard to the restrictions on public interest expression. See also Hirst v United Kingdom (no 2) [GC], No 74025/01, [2005] IX ECHR 187 at para 81; SH and Others v Austria [GC], No 57813/00, [2011] V ECHR 295 at para 94: “Where there is no consensus within the member States of the Council of Europe, either as to the relative importance of the interest at stake or as to the best means of protecting it, particularly where the case raises sensitive moral or ethical issues, the margin will be wider.”

10 Sweet, A Stone, “On the Constitutionalisation of the Convention: The European Court of Human Rights as a Constitutional Court,” Faculty Scholarship Series Paper 71 (2009).

11 See e.g. Holy Monasteries v Greece (1994), 301A ECHR (Ser A) 49 at para 70; Brosset-Triboulet and Others v France [GC], No 34078/02 (29 March 2010) at para 86; Herrmann v Germany [GC], No 9300/07 (26 June 2012) at para 74; Paulet v United Kingdom, No 6219/08 (13 May 2014) at para 64.

12 James, supra note 3 at para 50.

13 Sporrong and Lönnroth v Sweden (1982), 52 ECHR (Ser A) 5 at para 69.

14 See e.g. Coban, AR, Protection of Property Rights within the European Convention on Human Rights (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004) at 205; Bjorge, supra note 4 at 155.

15 Christoffersen, J, “Straight Human Rights Talk: Why Proporionality Does (Not) Matter” in P Wahlgren, , ed, Human Rights, Their Limitations and Proliferation, Scandinavian Studies in Law, vol 55 (Stockholm: Stockholm Institute for Scandinavian Law, 2010) 17.

16 See e.g. Depalle v France [GC], No 34044/02, [2010] III ECHR 233 at para 83; Bittó and Others v Slovakia, No 30255/09 (28 January 2014) at para 97.

17 Christoffersen, supra note 15.

18 Matscher, F, “Methods of Interpretation of the Convention” in Macdonald, R St J, Matscher, F & Petzold, H, eds, The European System for the Protection of Human Rights (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1993) 79.

19 Bjorge, supra note 4 at 157.

20 Akandji-Kombe, J-F, Positive Obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights: A Guide to the Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2007) at 7. In this respect, see, in particular, Dickson v United Kingdom [GC], No 44362/04, [2007] V ECHR 99; Hämäläinen v Finland [GC], No 37359/09, [2014] IV ECHR 369.

21 Fabris v France [GC], No 16574/08, [2013] I ECHR 425 [Fabris].

22 Loi no 2001-1135 du 3 décembre 2001 relative aux droits du conjoint survivant et des enfants adultérins et modernisant diverses dispositions de droit successoral [2001 Law]. This law eliminated the restrictions on inheritance rights of children “born of adultery” and conferred equal status for inheritance purposes on all children, be they legitimate, born to unmarried parents or “born of adultery.”

23 Mazurek v France, No 34406/97, [2000] II ECHR 23 [Mazurek].

24 At the material time, art 25(II) of the 2001 Law, supra note 22, read as follows:

La présente loi sera applicable aux successions ouvertes à compter de la date prévue au I, sous les exceptions suivantes:

  1. 1.

    1. L’article 763 du code civil dans sa rédaction issue de l’article 4 et l’article 15 de la présente loi sera applicable aux successions ouvertes à compter de la publication de celle-ci au Journal officiel de la République française.

  2. 2.

    2. Sous réserve des accords amiables déjà intervenus et des décisions judiciaires irrévocables, seront applicables aux successions ouvertes à la date de publication de la présente loi au Journal officiel de la République française et n’ayant pas donné lieu à partage avant cette date:

    • les dispositions relatives aux nouveaux droits successoraux des enfants naturels dont le père ou la mère était, au temps de la conception, engagé dans les liens du mariage ;

    • les dispositions du second alinéa de l’article 1527 du code civil dans sa rédaction issue de l’article 17.

The relevant provision of Article 25 (II. 2.) of the 2001 Law read that:

The present Law shall apply to successions that are already open from [1 July 2002], subject to the following exceptions:

  1. 2.

    2. Subject to any prior agreement between the parties or final court decision, the following shall apply to successions already open on the date of publication of the present Law in the Official Gazette of the French Republic and not having given rise to division prior to that date:

    • the provisions relating to the new inheritance rights of children born outside marriage whose father or mother was, at the time of conception, bound by marriage to another person.

The entry into force of the 2001 Law was deferred until 1 July 2002. But regarding the repeal of the provisions of the Civil Code concerning the rights of children “born of adultery,” the law came into force immediately on the date of publication of the law in the Official Gazette on 4 December 2001. Thus, in so far as it concerns the rights of children “born of adultery,” the 2001 Law was applicable to all successions open on 4 December 2001 on the condition that there had been no division prior to that date.

25 Fabris, supra note 21 at para 41 (extracts): “It was to those rights acquired by the other heirs that the legislature in 2001 — having, moreover, fully satisfied the general obligations incumbent on it to execute the Mazurek judgment — had to have regard when bringing the Law into force. Application of the new Law to pre-existing situations necessarily had to abide by the principles of legal certainty and foreseeability of the law established by the case-law of the Court. Section 25 of the 2001 Law thus excluded application of the new rights to successions already open on the date of its publication that had given rise to division before that date.”

26 Ibid at para 61 (extracts): “It is not in dispute in the present case that the applicant was deprived of a reserved portion and definitively placed in a different situation from that of the legitimate children regarding inheritance of their mother’s estate. He was precluded from obtaining an abatement of the inter vivos division from which he had been excluded and a reserved portion on grounds of his status as a child “born of adultery.” And: “Accordingly, in the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the legitimate aim of protecting the inheritance rights of the applicant’s half-brother and half-sister was not sufficiently weighty to override the claim by the applicant to a share in his mother’s estate” (at para 70 (extracts)).

27 Ibid at para 73 (extracts): “In the light of all the aforementioned considerations, the Court concludes that there was no reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the legitimate aim pursued. There was therefore no objective and reasonable justification for the difference in treatment regarding the applicant. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 14 of the ECHR taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No 1.”

28 In ibid at para 60, the ECtHR stated that “[t]he Court is not in principle required to settle disputes of a purely private nature. That being said, in exercising the European supervision incumbent on it, it cannot remain passive where a national court’s interpretation of a legal act, be it a testamentary disposition, a private contract, a public document, a statutory provision or an administrative practice appears unreasonable, arbitrary or blatantly inconsistent with the prohibition of discrimination established by Article 14 and more broadly with the principles underlying the Convention.”

29 Stec and Others v United Kingdom (dec) [GC], No 65731/01, [2005] X ECHR 321 at paras 47–48 [Stec and Others]; Demir and Baykara v Turkey [GC], No 34503/97 (12 November 2008) at paras 66–67.

30 See e.g. Weller v Hungary, No 44399/05 (31 March 2009) at para 28; Stec and Others, supra note 29 at paras 63–64; or, mutatis mutandis, Stafford v United Kingdom [GC], No 46295/99, [2002] IV ECHR 115 at para 68.

31 Marckx v Belgium, No 6833/74, [1979] 31 ECHR (Ser A) 2 at para 7, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice [Marckx]: “[T]he main, if not indeed the sole object and intended sphere of application of Article 8, was that of what I will call the ‘domiciliary protection’ of the individual. He and his family were no longer to be subjected to … the whole gamut of fascist and communist inquisitorial practices such as had scarcely been known, at least in Western Europe, since the eras of religious intolerance and oppression, until (ideology replacing religion) they became prevalent again in many countries between the two world wars and subsequently. Such, and not the internal, domestic regulation of family relationships, was the object of Article 8, and it was for the avoidance of these horrors, tyrannies and vexations that ‘private and family life … home and … correspondence’ were to be respected, and the individual endowed with a right to enjoy that respect – not for the regulation of the civil status of babies.”

32 Stec and Others, supra note 29.

33 Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocol No 11, 20 March 1952, Eur TS No 9, art 1, online: <https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168006377c>.

34 See in particular the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United Kindgom, SG & Ors, R (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, [2015] UKSC 16 (18 March 2015), online: <https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2014_0079_Judgment.pdf>, pertaining to the introducion of the benefit cap in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. In the reasons for the judgment, it is mentioned, among other things, that the test in the case of Stec and Others, supra note 29, involved “high level social/economic policy” (at para 135).

35 Wildhaber, L, “European Court of Human Rights” (2002) 40 Can YB Intl L 310.

36 See Soering v United Kingdom (1989), 161 ECHR (Ser A) 14 at para 102 [Soering]; Vo, supra note 5 at para 82; Mamatkulov and Askarov v Turkey [GC], No 46827/99, [2005] I ECHR 293 at para 121.

37 E.g., the ECtHR has interpreted art 8 of the ECHR in light of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, 1577 UNTS 3 (entered into force 2 September 1990) and the European Convention on the Adoption of Children, 24 April 1967, 634 UNTS 256, CETS No 202 (entered into force 26 April 1968). See in this respect Pini and Others v Romania, No 78028/01, [2004] V ECHR 297 at paras 139, 144; Emonet and Others v Switzerland, No 39051/03 (13 December 2007) at paras 65–66. In Siliadin v France, No 73316/01, [2005] VII ECHR 333 at paras 85–87, a reference was made to international treaties other than the ECHR. The ECtHR, in order to establish the state’s positive obligation concerning “the prohibition on domestic slavery,” took into account the provisions of universal international conventions (ILO Convention No 29 Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour, 28 June 1930, 39 UNTS 55 (entered into force 1 May 1932); the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, 7 September 1956, 266 UNTS 3 (entered into force 30 April 1957); Convention on the Rights of the Child, ibid).

38 The ECtHR indicated so in Golder v United Kingdom (1975), 18 ECHR (Ser A) 1 at para 29 [Golder]. The Legal Committee of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe foresaw in August 1950 that “the Commission and the Court [would] necessarily [have to] apply such principles” in the execution of their duties and thus considered it to be “unnecessary” to insert a specific clause to this effect in the ECHR. Documents of the Consultative Assembly, Working Papers of the 1950 Session, vol 3, no 93 (1950) at 982, para 5.

39 Soering, supra note 36 at para 102. The ECtHR took into account these principles in developing its case law concerning art 3 of the ECHR with respect to extradition to third countries.

40 Al-Adsani v United Kingdom [GC], No 35763/97, [2001] XI ECHR 79 at para 55.

41 In particular, recommendations and resolutions of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. See, among other authorities, Öneryıldız v Turkey [GC], No 48939/99, [2004] XII ECHR 79 at paras 59, 71, 90, 93. The ECtHR has also made reference to norms emanating from other Council of Europe organs, even though those organs have no function of representing states parties to the ECHR, whether as supervisory mechanisms or expert bodies.

42 See e.g. Golder, supra note 38 at para 29; Johnston and Others v Ireland (1986), 112 ECHR (Ser A) 17 at paras 51ff; Lithgow and Others v United Kingdom (1986), 102 ECHR 8 at paras 114, 117; Witold Litwa v Poland, No 26629/95, [2000] III ECHR 289 at paras 57–59.

43 See Saadi v United Kingdom [GC], No 13229/03, [2008] I ECHR 31 at para 62.

44 Gribnau, H, “Legitimacy of the Judiciary” in Hondius, E & Joustra, C, eds, Netherlands Reports to the Sixteenth International Congress of Comparative Law (Antwerpen: Intersentia, 2002) 25, online: <https://ssrn.com/abstract=2877985>.

45 Dzehtsiarou, K, “European Consensus and the Evolutive Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights” (2011) 12:10 German Law Journal 1745.

46 Mazurek, supra note 23.

47 Morawa, A, “The ‘Common European Approach’, ‘International Trends’, and the Evolution of Human Rights Law: A Comment on Goodwin and I v. the United Kingdom (2002) 3:8 German Law Journal 5, online: <https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56330ad3e4b0733dcc0c8495/t/56b97ed6ab48de38834ad6c4/1454997206498/GLJ_Vol_03_No_08_Morawa.pdf>.

48 See Sigurður A Sigurjónsson v Iceland, No 16130/90 (30 June 1993) at para 35; Sørensen and Rasmussen v Denmark [GC], No 52562/99, [2006] I ECHR 1 at paras 72–75. In finding that the right to organize had a negative aspect that excluded closed-shop agreements, the ECtHR considered, largely on the basis of the European Social Charter and the case law of its supervisory organs, together with other European or universal instruments, that there was a growing measure of agreement on the subject at international level.

49 E.g., the German Constitutional Court in its recent case law established that the judgments of the ECtHR serve to orientate and guide (“Orientierungs- und Leitfunktion”) national courts in their interpretation and application of the ECHR. See Preventive Detention II, 4 May 2011, 2 BvR 2365/09, BVerfGE 128, 326 at 368ff.

50 Lageot, C, “France” in Gerards, J & Fleuren, J, eds, Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the Judgments of the ECtHR in National Case-law: A Comparative Analysis (Cambridge: Intersentia, 2014) 145 at 165.

51 E Lambert-Abdelgawad & A Weber, “The Reception Process in France and Germany” in Keller & Stone Sweet, supra note 2, 107 at 128.

52 In his speech at the MultiRights Annual Conference on the Long-term Future of the European Court of Human Rights, the president of the ECtHR asserted: “On voit de plus en plus fréquemment les juridictions internes s’appuyer sur la Convention européenne des droits se l’homme telle qu’elle est appliquée à Strasbourg, mais, surtout, s’approprier les raisonnements juridiques de notre cour pour motiver leurs propres décisions.” Dean Spielmann, “The Successes of and Challenges for the European Court, Seen from the Inside / Les succès et les défis posés à la Cour européenne, perçus de l’intérieur” in MultiRights Proceedings, supra note 6, 42 at 46–47.

53 Pursuant to art 46, para 1, of the ECHR, “[t]he High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.” See Lambert-Abdelgawad, E, “The Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,” Human Rights Files No 19 (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2002) at 7, online: <https://www.echr.coe.int/LibraryDocs/DG2/HRFILES/DG2-EN-HRFILES-19(2002).pdf>. The author submits that “judgments of the European Court have binding authority for the parties” and that “although judgments of the European Court are not binding erga omnes, their binding authority extends beyond the confines of the particular case.” In this respect, see Marckx, supra note 31 at para 58: “Admittedly, it is inevitable that the Court’s decision will have effects extending beyond the confines of this particular case, especially since the violations found stem directly from the contested provisions and not from individual measures of implementation.”

54 Constance Grewe presented her observations in the framework of a seminar on the topic “Ten Years of the ‘New’ European Court of Human Rights 1998–2008: Situation and Outlook” (Proceedings of the Seminar, European Court of Human Rights, 13 October 2008) at 42.

55 See e.g. Ireland v United Kingdom (1978), 25 ECHR (Ser A) 1 at para 154; Guzzardi v Italy (1980), 39 ECHR (Ser A) 5 at para 86; Karner v Austria, No 40016/98, [2003] IX ECHR 199 at para 26.

56 Protocol No 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 2 October 2013, CETS No 214, online: <https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Protocol_16_ENG.pdf> [Protocol No 16]. The Group of Wise Persons, set up under the Action Plan adopted at the third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 16–17 May 2005), stated that “it would be useful to introduce a system under which the national courts could apply to the Court for advisory opinions on legal questions relating to interpretation of the Convention and the protocols thereto, in order to foster dialogue between courts and enhance the Court’s ‘constitutional’ role.” See Report of the Group of Wise Persons to the Committee of Ministers, Doc CM(2006)203 (15 November 2006) at para 135.

57 Pursuant to art 1 of Protocol No 16, supra note 56:

  1. 1.

    1. Highest courts and tribunals of a High Contracting Party, as specified in accordance with Article 10, may request the Court to give advisory opinions on questions of principle relating to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention or the protocols thereto.

  2. 2.

    2. The requesting court or tribunal may seek an advisory opinion only in the context of a case pending before it.

  3. 3.

    3. The requesting court or tribunal shall give reasons for its request and shall provide the relevant legal and factual background of the pending case.

58 Judge Spielmann expressed his opinion that advisory opinions will even have an importance comparable to that of the ECtHR’s landmark judgments. See Spielmann, supra note 52 at 47.

59 See e.g. Capital Bank AD v Bulgaria, No 49429/99, [2005] XII ECHR 37 at paras 78–79; Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia, No 25965/04 (7 January 2010) at para 197; Konstantin Markin v Russia [GC], No 30078/06, [2012] III ECHR 77 at para 89. In the latter case, the ECtHR considered that the subject matter of the application — the difference in treatment under Russian law between servicemen and servicewomen in regard to the entitlement to parental leave — involved an important question of general interest not only for Russia but also for other states parties to the ECHR. It thus considered that further examination of the application would contribute to elucidating, safeguarding, and developing the standards of protection under the ECHR.

60 First of all, the ECtHR operates within the sphere of international law. As A Stone Sweet and H Keller appositely submit, the ECtHR does not possess, unlike national constitutional or supreme courts, the “authority to invalidate national legal norms judged to be incompatible with the Convention” and it “does not preside over a hierarchically constituted judicial system in which it exercises appellate review, or cassation powers, when it comes to decisions of national courts.” They underline that the ECtHR “performs its most important governance functions through the building of a precedent-based case-law.” Stone Sweet & Keller, supra note 2 at 13–14. Regarding the static aspect of the role of the ECtHR, it can be underpinned by a claim put forward by E Bjorge that the national courts see the ECHR as interpreted by the ECtHR as a “floor” or a minimum standard that they shall observe. He further submits that not falling behind the standards of the ECtHR in the application of the convention involves a dialogue between the ECtHR and national courts and other factors, such as the doctrine of autonomous concepts, the evolutionary interpretation of treaties, the international margin of appreciation, and the strictures of proportionality. This argument evidently relates to the dynamic relationship between the ECtHR and the national courts. Bjorge, supra note 4 at 12.

61 Greer, S & Wildhaber, L, “Revisiting the Debate about ‘Constitutionalising’ the European Court of Human Rights” (2012) 12:4 Human Rights L Rev 655 at 667-–68. The authors submit four constitutional characteristics of the ECtHR and the ECHR system: (1) the ECHR is a “constitutional instrument of European public order”; (2) human rights litigation is by definition “constitutional”; (3) the ECtHR is increasingly acquiring “constitutional status” in member states; and (4) the ECtHR decides broadly the same kind of issues as a domestic supreme or constitutional court and also in largely similar ways.

62 Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, [2007] OJ C 306.

63 Loizidou v Turkey (preliminary objections) (1995), 310 ECHR (Ser A) 10.

64 Bosphorus Hava Yolları Turizm ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi v Ireland [GC], No 45036/98, [2005] VI ECHR 107 at para 143.

65 Kemmache v France (no 3), No 17621/91(24 November 1994) at para 44; García Ruiz, supra note 4 at para 28; Centro Europa 7 Srl and Di Stefano v Italy [GC], No 38433/09, [2012] III ECHR 339 at para 197; see also the dissenting opinion of Judge Costa in Kononov v Latvia [GC], No 36376/04, [2010] IV ECHR 35.

66 JG Merrills and AH Robertson submit that there were two main reasons for an enthusiastic approach to human rights protection in post-war Europe. First, many statesmen of that time “were acutely conscious of the need to prevent any recrudescence of dictatorship in Western Europe” and “were aware that the first steps towards dictatorship are the gradual suppression of individual rights.” Second was the present “ideological conflict between East and West.” Merrills, JG & Robertson, AH, Human Rights in Europe: A Study of the European Convention on Human Rights, 4th ed (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001) at 34. See further a speech of a member of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, M Pierre-Henri Teitgen, delivered in 1949, in which he underlined that “an international Court, within the Council of Europe, and a system of supervision and guarantees could be the conscience of which we all have need” having regard to the fact that “democracies do not become Nazi countries in one day” and that “a conscience must exist somewhere which will sound the alarm to the minds of a nation menaced.” Pierre-Henri Teitgen, M, Consultative Assembly, Official Reports (August 1949) at 1158.

67 See e.g. Gauksdóttir, supra note 6 at 17.

68 See Czech Constitutional Court, Case no Pl ÚS 36/01 (25 June 2002), published under No 403/2002.

69 Art 55 of the French Constitution reads: “Treaties or agreements duly ratified or approved shall, upon publication, prevail over Acts of Parliament, subject, with respect to each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party.” The French Council of State stated: “[S]i l’article 55 de la Constitution dispose que ‘les traités ou accords régulierement ratifiés ou approuvés ont, dès leur publication, une autorité supérieure a celle des lois sous réserve, pour chaque accord ou traité, de son application par l’autre partie,’ la suprématie ainsi conférée aux engagements internationaux ne s’applique pas, dans l’ordre interne, aux dispositions de nature constitutionnelle.” Council of State, Decision nos 200286, 200287 (30 October 1998).

70 The Declaration was concluded at the High Level Conference meeting at Brighton on 19 and 20 April 2012 at the initiative of the United Kingdom Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Brighton Declaration sought to amend the ECHR to include the principles of subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation. In order to give effect to certain provisions of the Declaration, Protocol No 15, supra note 7, amending the ECHR, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in June 2013.

71 Décret no 74-360 du 3 mai 1974 portant publication de la Convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales, 3 May 1974.

72 Décret no 81-917 du 9 octobre 1981 portant publication de la déclaration d’acceptation du droit de recours individuel en application de l’art. 25 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme en date du 04-11-1950 et de l’art. 6 du protocole 4 à ladite Convention, en date du 16-09, 9 October 1981. The ECtHR may receive applications from any person, non-governmental organization, or group of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the high contracting parties of the rights set forth in the ECHR or the protocols thereto. It means that natural and legal persons can apply directly to the ECtHR if they believe their human rights have been violated. The ECtHR may hear individual cases without the prior assent of the individual’s national government. In 1998, Protocol No 11 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Restructuring the Control Machinery Established Thereby, 11 May 1994, Eur TS No 155, made the right of individual petition compulsory.

73 Heuschling, L, “Comparative Law and the European Convention on Human Rights in French Human Rights Cases” in Örücü, E, ed, Judicial Comparativism in Human Rights Cases (London: British Insitute of International and Comparative Law, 2003) at 26. Heuschling observes: “France being the ‘patrie’, the birthplace of human rights, and having invented legal monuments such as the Code Civil and the judicial review of the administration by the Conseil d’État, comparative law could only be an export, but never an import. This nationalist pride was one of the arguments used by French governments to delay the ratification of the ECtHR: if the situation of human rights is already perfect in France due to a long-standing tradition, why should there be a need to adopt the Convention and, even more, to submit to the review of the Strasbourg Court?”

74 Council of State, supra note 69.

75 Bjorge, supra note 4 at 114; Lambert-Abdelgawad & Weber, supra note 51 at 115.

76 In the landmark Decision no 71–44 DC (16 July 1971), the Constitutional Council expressly acknowledged that the preamble of the 1958 Constitution had a constitutional value and, by reference to the principles laid down in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, French National Constituent Assembly, 26 August 1789, it rejected a law that violated one of those principles. The 1958 preamble refers to the Declaration, the preamble of the 1946 Constitution, and, since 2005, the Charter of the Environment. Loi constitutionnelle 2005-205 relative à la Charte de l’environnement, 1 March 2005 at 3697.

77 The preamble of the 1946 Constitution enumerates social rights or, more precisely, “the political, economic, and social principles” that are “especially necessary to our times.”

78 These principles were recognized by the Constitutional Council in Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Act, Decision no 74–54 DC (15 January 1975), [1975] OJ No 13 at 671 [Decision no 74–54], concerning termination of pregnancy. The Constitutional Council held that: “None of the exceptions allowed by the statute is, as matters stand, inconsistent with any of the fundamental principles recognised by the laws of the Republic, nor with the principle set out in the preamble to the Constitution of 27 October 1946 whereby the nation guarantees health care to all children, nor with any of the other principles of constitutional value established by that text; none of the derogations anticipated by the law is contrary to one of the fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic, nor disregards the principle pronounced in the Preamble of the 1946 Constitution according to which the Nation guarantees a child the protection of health. The Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Act is not therefore at variance with the texts to which the Constitution of 4 October 1958 refers in the preamble thereto, nor with any Article of the Constitution.” Besides the right to health, the Constitutional Council has also recognized as belonging to this category of principles, e.g., the right to asylum (Constitutional Council, Act on the Control of Immigration and Conditions of Entry, Reception and Residence for Aliens in France (Loi relative à la maîtrise de l’immigration et aux conditions d’entrée, d’accueil et de séjour des étrangers en France), Decision no 93–325 (13 August 1993), [1993] OJ No 190 [Act on the Control of Immigration]), the right of workers to participate in the management of enterprises (Constitutional Council, Five-year Act on Labour, Employment and Vocational Training (Loi quinquennale relative au travail, à l’emploi et à la formation professionnelle), Decision no 93–328 (16 December 1993), [1993] OJ No 295), or the right to lead a normal family life (Act on the Control of Immigration, ibid). As principles, these were denoted as positive rights or claim rights vis-à-vis the state.

79 The Preamble of the 1946 Constitution proclaims in paragraph 1 that: “The French people proclaims anew that any human being possesses inalienable and sacred rights, without distinction as to race, religion, or beliefs. It solemnly reaffirms the rights and liberties of man and of the citizen recognised by the Declaration of Rights of 1789, and the fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic.”

80 The creation of this notion is accredited to Louis Favoreu. He defined the “bloc of constitutionality” as “l’ensemble des principes et règles à valeur constitutionnelle dont le respect s’impose au pouvoir législatif comme au pouvoir exécutif.” Favoreu, L, Bloc de constitutionnalité, Dictionnaire constitutionnel, sous la dir Duhamel, O & Mény, Y (Paris: PUF, 1992) at 87. Georges Vedel developed a double definition of the “bloc of constitutionality” according to which the “bloc of constitutionality” in the narrow sense comprises provisions of constitutional value, and in the large sense all norms superior to law the respect of which is guaranteed by the Constitutional Council. Vedel, G, La place de la Déclaration de 1789 dans le “bloc de constitutionnalité”: La Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen et la jurisprudence (Paris: PUF, coll “Recherches politiques,” 1989) at 35.

81 Constitutional Council, Act Pertaining to the Opening up to Competition and the Regulation of Online Betting and Gambling (Loi relative à l’ouverture à la concurrence et à la régulation du secteur des jeux d’argent et de hasard en ligne), Decision no 2010-605 DC (12 May 2010), [2010] OJ No 0110 at 8897 [Decision no 2010–605].

82 Decision no 74-54, supra note 78, concerning voluntary interruption of pregnancy, “Loi relative à l’interruption volontaire de grossesse.” This decision was founded on two arguments. First was an argument based on a strict interpretation of art 61 of the Constitution, which does not confer on the Council the general power of appreciation identical to that of Parliament but only the power to pronounce itself on the conformity of statutes brought before it with the Constitution. If art 55 of the Constitution confers on treaties a superior authority to that of statutes, it does not prescribe or imply that their respect should be guaranteed in the framework of the control of conformity of statutes with the Constitution within the meaning of art 61 of the Constitution. Second, pursuant to the Constitution, the Council is subject to a time limit of one month. It would be difficult to examine within such a short period of time the conformity of statutes with a number of international engagements to which France is party.

83 Constitutional Council, Loi relative aux conditions d’entrée et de séjour des étrangers en France, Decision no 86–216 DC (3 September 1986), [1986] OJ No 206 [Decision no 86–216]; Constitutional Council, Loi de finances pour 1990, Decision no 89–268 DC (29 December 1989), [1989] OJ No 303 [Decision no 89-268].

84 Lambert-Abdelgawad & Weber, supra note 51 at 116.

85 The Court of Cassation has considered the compatibility of national law with international treaties since the decision in Société des Cafés Jacques Vabre, Cass mixte, 24 May 1975, (1975) Bull civ 497, No 73-13556.

86 CE, 20 October 1989, Nicolo (1989) Rec 190. Until 1989, the Council of State ensured the prevalence of international law over such national laws that had been adopted before the ratification and incorporation of international treaties into the French legal system. It considered that it would otherwise indirectly monitor conformity of the law with the Constitution, which was the task of the Constitutional Council (e.g., CE, 1 May 1968, Syndicat général des fabricants de semoules de France, (1968) Recueil 149). It changed course in 1989 when it ruled that international norms had to take precedence over national laws, even over those laws adopted after the ratification of international instruments. Having taken into account art 55 of the Constitution, the Council of State for the first time had regard to the Constitutional Council’s decision of 1975.

87 Decision no 74–54, supra note 78; Decision no 2010–605, supra note 81.

88 See e.g. Costa, J-P, “The Relationship between the European Court of Human Rights and the National Courts” (2013) 3 Eur HRL Rev 264 at 272. Spielmann, D, “Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Systems of Europe” in Rosenfeld, M & Sajó, A, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) at 1238: “[T]he Convention can nevertheless be considered as a shadow constitution.”

89 O Dutheillet de Lamothe, “L’influence de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme sur le Conseil constitutionnel,” online: <http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/>.

90 Andriantsimbazovina, J, “La prise en compte de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme par le Conseil constitutionnel, continuité ou évolution?” (2005) 18 Cahiers du Conseil constitutionnel 3.

91 Handyside v United Kingdom(1976), 24 ECHR (Ser A) 5.

92 Constitutional Council, Loi relative à la liberté de communication, Decision no 86–217 DC (18 September 1986), [1986] OJ No 218 [Decision no 86–217]; Constitutional Council, Loi relative aux communications électroniques et aux services de communication audiovisuelle, Decision no 2004–497 DC (1 July 2004), [2004] OJ No 159.

93 Constitutional Council, Loi visant à limiter la concentration et à assurer la transparence financière et le pluralisme des entreprises de presse, Decision no 84–181 DC (10 and 11 October 1984), [1984] OJ No 240.

94 Constitutional Council, Loi modifiant la loi n° 86-1067 du 30 septembre 1986 relative à la liberté de communication, Decision no 88–248 DC (17 January 1989), [1989] OJ No 15.

95 Constitutional Council, Loi renforçant la sécurité et protégeant la liberté des personnes, Decision no 80–127 DC (19 and 20 January 1981), [1981] OJ No 18. In Constitutional Council, Loi relative à la sécurité et à la transparence du marché financier, Decision no 89–260 DC (28 July 1989) [Decision no 89-260], express reference was made to the interpretation of the ECtHR in Delcourt v Belgium (1970), 11 ECHR (Ser A) 1 [Delcourt].

96 Respectively: Constitutional Council, Loi portant création d’une couverture maladie universelle, Decision no 99–416 DC (23 July 1999), [1999] OJ No 172 [Decision no 99–416]; Constitutional Council, Loi relative à la maîtrise de l’immigration, au séjour des étrangers en France et à la nationalité, Decision no 2003–484 (20 November 2003), [2003] OJ No 274.

97 Constitutional Council, Loi relative au respect du corps humain et Loi relative au don et à l’utilisation des éléments et produits du corps humain, à l’assistance médicale à la procréation et au diagnostic prénatal, Decision no 94–343/344 DC (27 July 1994), [1994] OJ No 174.

98 Decision no 86-217, supra note 92; Constitutional Council, Loi relative à la limitation des dépenses électorales et à la clarification du financement des activités politiques, Decision no 89–271 DC (11 January 1990), [1990] OJ No 11.

99 Tinière, R, “Question prioritaire de constitutionnalité et droit européen des droits de l’homme. Entre équivalence et complémentarité” (2012) 28:4 Revue française de droit administratif 621 at 622.

100 Lambert-Abdelgawad & Weber, supra note 51 at 137. The authors note that a wide range of French authorities have expressed profound irritation at the tendency of the ECtHR towards harmonization.

101 Such as in the case of Célice v France, Decision no 14166/09 (8 March 2012) at 36. The ECtHR referred to the Council’s findings in Constitutional Council, M. Jean-Yves G. [Amende forfaitaire et droit au recours], QPC Decision no 2010-38 (29 September 2010), [2010] OJ No 0227.

102 Tinière, supra note 99 at 622; Dutheillet de Lamothe, supra note 89.

103 O Dutheillet de Lamothe, a former member of the Constitutional Council, submits that in conformity with the French tradition, the Constitutional Council does not expressly refer to rulings of the ECtHR: “[C]onformément à la tradition française, le Conseil constitutionnel ne se réfère pas expressément à d’autres décisions de justice et notamment aux arrêts de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme.” Dutheillet de Lamothe, supra note 89.

104 Constitutional Council, Traité établissant une Constitution pour l’Europe, Decision no 2004-505 (19 November 2004), [2004] OJ No 273. This decision concerned the principle of secularism, which is a value of the republic recognized in art 1 of the Constitution. Within the framework of the review of conformity of the Constitution with the Treaty Establishing the Constitution for Europe, [2004] OJ C310/01, the Council interpreted this principle on the basis of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in order to conclude that art II-70 of the Treaty was compatible with the principle of secularism enshrined in art 1 of the French Constitution. Leyla Sahin v Turkey [GC], No 44774/98, [2005] XI ECHR 173.

105 Constitutional Council, M. Daniel W et autres [Garde à vue], Decision no 2010-14/22 QPC (30 July 2010), [2010] OJ No 175.

106 Law no 2011-392 on Police Detention (Loi relative à la garde à vue) (14 April 2011), reprinted in Journal officiel de la République française (15 April 2011) at 6610.

107 Decision no 99-416, supra note 96.

108 Decision no 89-260, supra note 95, on the basis of the judgment in Delcourt, supra note 95; Golder, supra note 38.

109 Le Code de procédure pénale:

Article 622-1

Le réexamen d’une décision pénale définitive peut être demandé au bénéfice de toute personne reconnue coupable d’une infraction lorsqu’il résulte d’un arrêt rendu par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme que la condamnation a été prononcée en violation de la Convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales ou de ses protocoles additionnels, dès lors que, par sa nature et sa gravité, la violation constatée entraîne, pour le condamné, des conséquences dommageables auxquelles la satisfaction équitable accordée en application de l’article 41 de la Convention précitée ne pourrait mettre un terme. …

[The reconsideration of a final criminal decision may be requested for the benefit of any person judged guilty of an offence, where this conviction is held, in a judgment given by the European Court of Human Rights, to have been declared in violation of the provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, or its additional Protocols, and where the declared violation, by its nature or seriousness, has led to harmful repercussions for the convicted person, which the just satisfaction granted under article 41 of the Convention cannot bring to an end.]

110 E.g., in the case of Hakkar v France, No 30190/96 (27 November 1996), the ECtHR found a violation of art 6, paras 3(b) and (c) in conjunction with art 6, para 1 of the ECHR, in that in the context of criminal proceedings before the Assize Court of Yonne, as a result of which the applicant was sentenced to life imprisonment, the applicant had not been given the time or the facilities necessary to prepare his defence and was not represented at the trial. Following the ECtHR’s judgment, the applicant lodged an application for re-examination of the judgment of the Yonne Assize Court together with a request for suspension of his sentence. The Re-examination Board accepted the application to re-examine the life sentence and referred the case to the Hauts de Seine Assize Court to undertake a new trial.

111 Cass, Commission réexamen, 15 February 2001, (2001) Voisine, Dall 983.

112 Cass, Commission réexamen, 8 November 2001, (2002) Dall 373.

113 Lageot, supra note 50.

114 See e.g. D Rook, Property Law and Human Rights (London: Blackstone, 2001) at 4243.

115 Tinière, supra note 99 at 623.

116 The French legislature may adopt a (retrospective) “validating statute” (une loi de validation) by which it renders retroactively legal (“validates”) an administrative act that the administrative court had previously held to be illegal or that is susceptible of being illegal.

117 Zielinski and Pradal and Gonzalez and Others v France [GC], No 24846/94, [1999] VII ECHR 95.

118 Constitutional Council, Loi de financement de la sécurité sociale pour 2000, Decision no 99–422 DC (21 December 1999a), [1999] OJ No 302.

119 Constitutional Council, Loi organique portant validation de l’impôt foncier sur les propriétés bâties en Polynésie française, Decision no 2002–458 DC (7 February 2002), [2002] OJ No 36.

120 Constitutional Council, Loi de programmation pour la cohésion sociale, Decision no 2004–509 DC (13 January 2005), [2005] OJ No 15.

121 Luchaire, F, “Le Conseil constitutionnel et la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme” (2007) 161 Gazette du Palais 11. It can be claimed that due to the attachment of both the Constitutional Council and the ECtHR to the liberal tradition, they have a convergent conception of fundamental rights and freedoms in that the latter represent a limitation of power.

122 See CE, Ass, 30 October 1998, Sarran, Levacher et autres, (1998) Rec 369.

123 See Cass, Ass Plén, 2 June 2000, Mlle Fraisse, (2000) Bull 7, No 4.

124 CE, Ass, 30 November 2001, Ministre de la Défense v Diop and Ministre de l’économie, des finances et de l’industrie v Diop, (2001) Rec 605.

125 CE, 9 February 2007, Gardedieu, (2007) Rec 78.

126 See CE, Ass, 3 December 1999, Didier, (1999) Rec 399.

127 Constitutional Act no 2008-724 (23 July 2008) inserted into the Constitution, art 61-1 and amended art 62 to introduce a special procedure for an a posteriori review of the constitutionality of statutes, which came into force on 1 March 2010. Its purpose was threefold: (1) to vest a new right in a person coming under the jurisdiction of the courts enabling him or her to avail him- or herself of the rights which are conferred on him or her by the Constitution; (2) to remove unconstitutional provisions from the national legal order; (3) to ensure the paramountcy of the Constitutional Council in the national legal order.

128 The president of the republic, the prime minister, speakers of both Chambers of Parliament and, in most cases, by at least sixty deputies or sixty senators.

129 The binding character of its decisions is limited to the concrete issue on which the Council rules. The consequences of a finding of unconstitutionality of a statute or its provisions is that it may not be promulgated and, in regard to international agreements, the statute providing empowerment to conclude or ratify the agreement may only be adopted after amendment of the Constitution.

130 Lambert-Abdelgawad & Weber, supra note 51 at 144.

131 O Pfersmann, “Concrete Review as Indirect Constitutional Complaint in French Constitutional Law: A Comparative Perspective” (2010) 6 European Constitutional Law Review 223 at 237. Any person subjected to the jurisdiction of the courts has the right to argue in support of his claim that a statutory provision infringes the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. An application to this effect may be lodged before all courts and at every stage of proceedings. The incumbent court will decide whether the application is admissible and if so, it will then transmit the application to the Council of State or the Court of Cassation that are vested with the power to decide whether this issue of constitutionality should be referred to the Constitutional Council.

132 The QPC can only be referred to the Constitutional Council by the two supreme courts, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State. Art 61-1 of the Constitution stipulates that, “[w]hen during proceedings before a Court of Law, it is claimed that a statutory provision infringes the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, a referral may be made to the Constitutional Council by the Conseil d’État or the Cour de cassation, and the Constitutional Council shall give its ruling within a specified time.”

133 According to art 62 of the Constitution, “[a] provision held to be unconstitutional on the basis of Article 61–1 shall be repealed as from the publication of the decision of the Constitutional Council or at a subsequent date as specified by said decision. The Constitutional Council shall determine the conditions in and extent to which the effects of the challenged decision shall be liable to be called into question.” See e.g. Constitutional Council, Loi organique relative à l’application de l’article 61–1 de la Constitution, Decision no 2009-595 DC (3 December 2009).

134 Constitutional Council, Consorts L [Cristallisation des pensions], Decision no 2010–1 QPC (28 May 2010), [2010] OJ No 122; Constitutional Council, Région Languedoc-Roussillon et autres [Article 575 du code de procédure pénale], Decision no 2010–15/23 QPC (23 July 2010), [2010] OJ No 0169; Constitutional Council, M. Daniel W et autres [Garde à vue], Decision no 2010–14/22 QPC (30 July 2010), [2010] OJ No 0175.

135 David Szymczak, “Question prioritaire de constitutionnalité et Convention européenne des droits de l’Homme: l’européanisation ‘heurtée’ du Conseil constitutionnel français,” Jus Politicum, online: <http://juspoliticum.com/article/Question-prioritaire-de-constitutionnalite-et-Convention-europeenne-des-droits-de-l-Homme-l-europeanisation-heurtee-du-Conseil-constitutionnel-francais-449.html> ; Marc Guillaume, “Question prioritaire de constitutionnalité et Convention européenne des droits de l’homme,” Nouveaux Cahiers du Conseil constitutionnel no 32 (Dossier: Convention européenne des droits de l’homme), online: <http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/francais/nouveaux-cahiers-du-conseil/cahier-n-32/question-prioritaire-de-constitutionnalite-et-convention-europeenne-des-droits-de-l-homme.99056.html>.

136 The power of the ordinary supreme courts to review compatibility of laws with an international treaty or the law of the European Union is implied in the case law of the Constitutional Council. In 1975, the Council held that despite the principle of precedence of international treaties over statutes by virtue of art 55 of the Constitution, it was not competent to examine the conformity of statutes with France’s international and European commitments (Decision 74–54, supra note 78). In its subsequent decisions, the Council explicitly stated that the review of compatibility of laws with international treaties must be exercised by ordinary courts under the control of the Court of Cassation and the Council of State (Decision no 86–216, supra note 83; Decision no 89–268, supra note 83). The Court of Cassation, not long after the Constitutional Council’s decision of 1975, considered that Article 95 of the then EEC Treaty (now the EU Treaty) prevailed over the relevant national legislation. Subsequently, the Council of State also considered, for the first time in 1989, that the EEC Treaty prevailed over national legislation (the Act of 1977 on Organisation of European Parliamentary Elections). For further reading, see Lageot, supra note 50 at 158–59.

137 Constitutional Council, Loi portant adaptation de la justice aux évolutions de la criminalité, Decision no 2004–492 DC (2 March 2004), [2004] OJ No 59.

138 Constitutional Council, M. Daniel W et autres [Garde à vue], Decision no 2010-14/22 QPC (30 July 2010), [2010] OJ No 0175. The Constitutional Council considered that arts 62, 63, 77 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were contrary to the Constitution as they did not permit a person who was being interrogated while in police detention to avail themselves of the effective assistance of counsel.

139 Notably in the case of Brusco v France, No 1466/07 (14 October 2010) [Brusco], the ECtHR stated that “the person held in custody has the right to be assisted by a counsel from the beginning of custody as well as during interrogations.” See also Salduz v Turkey, No 36391/02 (27 November 2008) or Dayanan v Turkey, No 7377/03 (13 October 2009). On the basis of European case law (Muller v France, No 21802/93, [1997] II ECHR 11), the legislation on the garde à vue had already been modified in 2000 and 2002 in regard to its duration. The reform (Law no 2000–516 on Presumption of Innocence and Law (“Loi Perben”), 2002) reinforced the procedural guarantee in the application of legislation on the measure of garde à vue and created the office of juge des libertés et de la détention competent to decide on the appropriateness of such measure.

140 The Constitutional Council held that “l’abrogation immédiate des dispositions contestées méconnaîtrait les objectifs de prévention des atteintes à l’ordre public et de recherche des auteurs d’infractions et entraînerait des conséquences manifestement excessives; qu’il y a lieu, dès lors, de reporter au 1er juillet 2011 la date de cette abrogation afin de permettre au législateur de remédier à cette inconstitutionnalité.”

141 Cass crim, 19 October 2010, (2010) Bull crim 673, Nos 10–82.306,10–85.051, 10–82.902.

142 Brusco, supra note 139.

143 Cass, Ass plén, 15 April 2011, (2011) Bull crim 1, No 10–17.049.

144 Platon, S, “Les interférences entre l’office du juge ordinaire et celui du Conseil constitutionnel: ‘malaise dans le contentieux constitutionnel’?” (2012) 28:4 Revue fran${\rm{\c{c}}}$aise de droit administratif 639 at 645.

145 Constitutional Act No 395/2001 Coll (“ústavní zákon č 395/2001 Sb, kterým se mění ústavní zákon České národní rady č 1/1993 Sb, Ústava České republiky, ve znění pozdějších předpisů”).

146 Malenovský, J, Mezinárodní právo veřejné: jeho obecná část a poměr k jiným právním systémům, zvláště k právu českému (Public International Law: the General Part and the Relationship to Other Legal Systems, Especially to the Czech Law) (Brno: Masaryk University, 2008) at 464–71.

147 The Euro-Amendment entirely reformulated art 10 of the Constitution, which provided that only international treaties concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms that have been duly ratified and promulgated take precedence over statutes. The current art 10 reads as follows: “Promulgated treaties to the ratification of which Parliament has given its consent and by which the Czech Republic is bound, form part of the legal order; shall a treaty provide differently from a statute, the treaty shall apply.” Art 87, paras 1(a) and (b) of the Constitution read as follows: “(1) The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction: a) to annul statutes or individual provisions thereof if they are in conflict with the constitutional order; b) to annul other legal enactments or individual provisions thereof if they are in conflict with the constitutional order or a statute.”

148 The current text of art 10 of the Constitution reads as follows: “Promulgated international treaties, the ratification of which has been approved by Parliament and which are binding on the Czech Republic, shall constitute a part of the legal order; should an international treaty contain a provision contrary to a law, the international treaty shall be applied.”

149 Constitutional Court no Pl ÚS 36/01 (25 June 2002), No 403/2002.

150 Filip, J, “Nález č 403/2002 Sb jako rukavice hozená ústavodárci Ústavním soudem” (2002) 3:11 Právní zpravodaj 11 at 1215; Sládeček, V, Ústavní soudnictví, 2nd ed (Prague: CH Beck, 2003) at 104–06; Malenovský, J, “Euronovela Ústavy: ‘Ústavní inženýrství’ ústavodárce nebo Ústavního soudu či obou?” in Kysela, J, ed, Deset let Ústavy České republiky: východiska, stav, perspektivy (Prague: Eurolex Bohemia, 2003) 173.

151 See Constitutional Court no Pl ÚS 34/02 (5 February 2003); Constitutional Court no I ÚS 752/02 (15 April 2003); Constitutional Court no Pl ÚS 44/02#1 (24 June 2003); Constitutional Court no Pl ÚS 44/03 (5 April 2005). In Inequality within Bankruptcy Act, the Constitutional Court annulled a part of the Bankruptcy Act for its inconsistency with art 1 of Protocol No 1 Amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: Inequality within Bankruptcy Act, Pl ÚS 44/02, no 1 (24 June 2003).

152 Balík, S, “A Few Notes on the Case Law of the Czech Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice and Its Role in the Czech Republic: Report 2004” (Seminar on the Value of Precedents (national, foreign, international) for Constitutional Courts, Baku, 4 September 2004), online: <http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-JU(2004)047-e>.

153 According to this provision, “[t]he Czech Republic shall observe its obligations under international law.”

154 Constitutional Court no II ÚS 604/02 (26 February 2004).

155 Constitutional Court no I ÚS 310/05 (15 November 2006).

156 Constitutional Court no I ÚS 85/04 (13 July 2006).

157 Constitutional Court no III ÚS 2671/09 (3 March 2011) or Constitutional Court no I ÚS 1768/09 (21 March 2011). The Constitutional Court made reference to cases concerning the squeeze out dealt with by the ECtHR in the judgment of Kohlhofer and Minarik v Czech Republic, No 32921/03 (15 October 2009).

158 Constitutional Court no Pl ÚS 20/05 (28 February 2006). The Constitutional Court referred to art 1 of Protocol No 1, supra note 151.

159 Holländer, P, “The Role of the Constitutional Court in Application of the Constitution by the Ordinary Courts” in Kranjc, J, ed, Law in Transition, Transition in Law (Ljubljana: Ljubljana Law Faculty, 2003) 89.

160 Rashed v Czech Republic, No 298/07 (27 November 2008).

161 Act No 325/1999 Coll on Asylum (“zákon č 325/1999 Sb, o azylu a o změně zákona č 283/1991 Sb, o Policii České republiky, ve znění pozdějších předpisů (zákon o azylu)”).

162 Macready v Czech Republic, No 4824/06 (22 April 2010).

163 Act No 6/2002 Coll on Courts and Justices (“zákon č 6/2002 Sb., o soudech, soudcích, přísedících a státní správě soudů a o změně některých dalších zákonů (zákon o soudech a soudcích)”).

164 Hartman v Czech Republic, No 53341/99, [2003] VIII ECHR 317.

165 Act No 160/2006 Coll, amending Act No 82/1998 Coll, on Liability for Damage Caused in the Exercise of Public Authority or by Improper Official Procedure (“zákon č 160/2006 Sb., kterým se mění zákon č 82/1998 Sb., o odpovědnosti za škodu způsobenou při výkonu veřejné moci rozhodnutím nebo nesprávným úředním postupem”).

166 Act No 182/1993 Coll, on the Constitutional Court (“zákon č 182/1993 Sb, o Ústavním soudu”).

167 Act No 83/2004 Coll, amending Act No 182/1993 Coll, on the Constitutional Court (“zákon č 83/2004 Sb, kterým se mění zákon č 182/1993 Sb, o Ústavním soudu, ve znění pozdějších předpisů”).

168 Krčmář and Others v Czech Republic, No 35376/97 (3 March 2000).

169 Act No 404/2012 Coll, amending Act No 99/1963 Coll, on the Code of Civil Procedure (“zákon, kterým se mění zákon č 99/1963 Sb, občanský soudní řád, ve znění pozdějších předpisů, a některé další zákony”).

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