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Legal Alerts

Changes to Applications to European Court of Human Rights and Admissibility Criteria

Legal Alerts
IT & Communications

Recent Development

Protocol No. 15, which amends the European Convention on Human Rights (“Convention“), entered into force on 1 August 2021. The Protocol introduces changes to the provisions on application periods, admissibility criteria and judge candidates. The amendments on the application periods will enter into force on 1 February 2022, whereas the other amendments are already in force as of the effective date of the Protocol, i.e., 1 August 2021.

What Does the Protocol Say?

According to the amendments introduced in the Protocol:

  • The six-month time limit for submitting an application to the European Court of Human Rights (“Court“) is reduced to four months. This four-month period will be implemented six months after the effective date of the Protocol (i.e., 1 February 2022). If the final/definitive decision is rendered before 1 August 2021, the six-month period will be taken into consideration for applications to the Court.
  • With respect to the admissibility criterion of “significant disadvantage” (which allows the Court to reject the application), the wording “provided that no case may be rejected on this ground which has not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal” is removed.
  • A Court Chamber may relinquish jurisdiction in favor of the Grand Chamber if a pending case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention and its Protocols or if the resolution of the question might be inconsistent with a judgement previously rendered by the Court. Per the Protocol, parties may no longer object to the relinquishment by a Chamber in favor of the Grand Chamber.
  • The wording “High Contracting Parties, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, have the primary responsibility to secure the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention and its Protocols, and that in doing so, they enjoy a margin of appreciation” has been included in the Preamble of the Convention.
  • Candidates for the post of judge must be less than 65 years of age at the time the list of three candidates is requested by the European Council Parliamentary Assembly.

The press release published by the Court on the matter is available online here (in English)


The Protocol introduces important changes to the application periods and admissibility criteria. All relevant individuals must carefully review the changes and take necessary steps to ensure compliance in their applications to the Court.