Unpacking the partnership: typology of constitutional courts’ roles in implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ case law
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2018
- © The Authors 2018
Judicial Studies Institute (JUSTIN), Faculty of Law, Masaryk University. I am grateful to John Ferejohn, David Kosař, Davide Paris, Pasquale Pasquino, to the participants in the ECtHR workshop in Barcelona (Pompeu Fabra University), PluriCourts human rights seminar (University of Oslo), JUSTIN research meeting (Masaryk University), and to anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have significantly improved this text. The usual caveats apply. The research leading to this article has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant No. 678375- JUDI-ARCH-ERC-2015-STG).
1 See e.g. High-level Conference on the Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights, our shared responsibility – Brussels Declaration (2015). See also Helfer, L., ‘Redesigning the European Court of Human Rights: Embeddedness as a Deep Structural Principle of the European Human Rights Regime’, 19 EJIL (2008) p. 125 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
2 Hillebrecht, C., ‘The Power of Human Rights Tribunals: Compliance with the European Court of Human Rights and domestic policy change’, 20 EJIR (2014) p. 1100 at p. 1117Google Scholar.
3 In this article, the term ‘implementation’ refers to the domestic process centred around the reaction to the European Court’s judgment. Such a broad understanding allows both the positive steps leading to compliance and the rather negative steps leading to partial compliance or non-compliance to be taken into account. For details on implementation of the European Court’s case law, see e.g. Lambert-Abdelgawad, E., The Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (CoE Publishing 2008)Google Scholar.
4 Kosař, D. and Petrov, J., ‘The Architecture of the Strasbourg System of Human Rights: The Crucial Role of the Domestic Level and the Constitutional Courts in Particular’, 77 Heidelberg J Int'l L (2017) p. 585 Google Scholar.
6 Paris, D., ‘Allies and Counterbalances. Constitutional Courts and the European Court of Human Rights: A Comparative Perspective’, 77 Heidelberg J Int'l L (2017) p. 623 Google Scholar.
7 Sadurski, W., ‘Partnering with Strasbourg: Constitutionalisation of the European Court of Human Rights, the Accession of Central and East European States to the Council of Europe, and the Idea of Pilot Judgments’, 9 HRL Rev. (2009) p. 397 at p. 402Google Scholar.
9 See Keller, H. and Stone Sweet, A. (eds.), A Europe of Rights: The Impact of the ECHR on National Legal Systems (Oxford University Press 2012)Google Scholar.
10 See Gerards, J. and Fleuren, J. (eds.), Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the Judgments of the ECtHR in National Case Law (Intersentia 2014)Google Scholar.
11 See Garlicki, L. and Kondak, I., ‘Poland: Human rights between international and constitutional law’, in I. Motoc and I. Ziemele (eds.), The Impact of the ECHR on Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press 2016) p. 326 Google Scholar at p. 329; Sadurski, supra n. 7, p. 438.
12 For example, the Italian (post-2007) and Czech constitutional courts view the ECHR as a yardstick for the review of legislation. The Spanish and German constitutional courts use the ECHR for the interpretation of domestic constitutional rights. See numerous other examples in Paris, supra n. 6, and van de Heyning, C., ‘Constitutional courts as guardians of fundamental rights: The constitutionalization of the Convention through domestic constitutional adjudication’, in P. Popelier et al. (eds.), The Role of Constitutional Courts in Multilevel Governance (Intersentia 2013) p. 21 Google Scholar.
13 Anagnostou, D., ‘Politics, courts and society in the national implementation and practice of European Court of Human Rights case law’, in D. Anagnostou (ed.), The European Court of Human Rights: Implementing Strasbourg's Judgments on Domestic Policy (Edinburgh University Press 2013) p. 211 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
14 Hillebrecht, C., Domestic Politics and International Human Rights Tribunals: The Problem of Compliance (Cambridge University Press 2014) p. 25 Google Scholar.
16 Martinico, G., ‘National Courts and Judicial Disobedience to the ECHR: A Comparative Overview’, in O.M. Arnardóttir and A. Buyse (eds.), Shifting Centres of Gravity in Human Rights Protection (Routledge 2016) p. 59 Google Scholar; Jackson, V., Constitutional Engagement in a Transnational Era (Oxford University Press 2010) p. 92 and p. 94Google Scholar.
17 D. Anagnostou, ‘Untangling the domestic implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgments’, in Anagnostou (ed.), supra n. 13, p. 1 at p. 13; A. Stone Sweet and H. Keller, ‘Introduction: The Reception of the ECHR in National Legal Orders’, in Keller and Stone Sweet, supra n. 9, at p. 20.
18 I have borrowed the concepts of convergence, engagement and resistance from Jackson, supra n. 16.
19 Peters, B., ‘The Rule of Law Dimensions of Dialogues between National Courts and Strasbourg’, in M. Kanetake and A. Nollkaemper (eds.), The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (Hart 2016) p. 201 Google Scholar at p. 210-215, and references cited therein.
20 Partnership capacity denotes the likeliness of a constitutional court’s involvement in implementation, plus its ability and willingness to secure compliance with the European Court’s judgments. See ‘Varying partnership capacity of constitutional courts’ below.
21 I concentrate on general measures and I acknowledge both the inter partes binding effect of the European Court’s rulings (Art. 46 ECHR) and the res interpretata effect of Strasbourg judgments. As a result, I have taken into account both the judgments addressed to the given country and to other countries. See Bodnar, A., ‘Res Interpretata: Legal Effect of the European Court of Human Rights’ Judgments for other States Than Those Which Were Party to the Proceedings’, in Y. Haeck and E. Brems (eds.), Human Rights and Civil Liberties in the 21st Century (Springer 2014) p. 223 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
22 See supra n. 14, and Alter, K., ‘Tipping the Balance: International Courts and the Construction of International and Domestic Politics’, 13 CYELS (2011) p. 1 Google Scholar.
23 See George, A.L. and Bennett, A., Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (MIT Press 2005) p. 240 Google Scholar.
24 I have made use of nearly 300 resolutions in English containing the terms ‘constitutional court’, ‘constitutional tribunal’ or ‘constitutional council’ and nearly 240 resolutions in French containing the terms ‘cour constitutionnelle’, ‘tribunal constitutionnel’ or ‘conseil constitutionnel’.
25 Keller and Stone Sweet, supra n. 9; Anagnostou (ed.), supra n. 13; Gerards and Fleuren, supra n. 10; Donald, A. and Leach, P., Parliaments and the European Court of Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2016)Google Scholar; Motoc, I. and I. Ziemele (eds.), The Impact of the ECHR on Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press 2016)Google Scholar; and The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights in States Parties – Selected Examples (CoE Publishing 2016).
27 The six roles are mutually exclusive at any one point in time. However, the constitutional courts can play multiple roles across different phases of the implementation of one judgment.
28 Stone Sweet, A., ‘A Cosmopolitan Legal Order: Constitutional Pluralism and Rights Adjudication in Europe’, 1 GlobCon (2012) p. 53 at p. 63Google Scholar.
29 Stone Sweet and Keller, supra n. 17, at p. 14.
30 See e.g. ECtHR [plenary] 23 June 1993, Case No. 12952/87, Ruiz-Mateos v Spain, paras. 55-60.
31 See infra notes 33, 35, 40, 43, 46 and 48.
32 This section deals exclusively with cases in which the violation of the ECHR was caused by the practices of the constitutional court, not by the underlying legislation regulating the proceedings before the constitutional court as such. This is so because the latter cases fall into a different category (discussed below) as the source of violation was the legislation itself.
33 ECtHR 20 April 2004, Case No. 57567/00, Bulena v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 28 June 2005, Case No. 74328/01, Zedník v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 13 December 2005, Case No. 6019/03, Zemanová v the Czech Republic.
34 Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)122, 3 December 2009.
35 Instead of many see ECtHR 21 June 2005, Case No. 61811/00, Milatová and others v the Czech Republic.
36 Resolution ResDH(2006)71, 20 December 2006; see also Resolution CM/ResDH(2012)20, 8 March 2012.
37 ECtHR 14 April 2009, Case No. 37374/05, Társaság a Szabadságjogokért v Hungary.
38 Resolution CM/ResDH(2012)191, 6 December 2012.
39 For explanation of the extraordinary appeal in the Czech legal order see M. Bobek, ‘An Introduction to the Czech Legal System and Legal Resources Online’, GlobalLex, 2006 (updated in 2014 by Olga Pouperová), <www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Czech_Republic.html>, visited 8 July 2018.
40 See e.g. ECtHR 12 November 2002, Case No. 46129/99, Zvolský a Zvolská v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 12 November 2002, Case No. 47273/99, Běleš v the Czech Republic. In the most problematic cases the party lodged an extraordinary appeal and a constitutional complaint at the same time. In this first phase, the constitutional complaint was dismissed as premature. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court dismissed the extraordinary appeal as inadmissible, and the Constitutional Court found the subsequent constitutional complaint to be belated. See ECtHR 24 February 2004, Case No. 73577/01, Vodárenská akciová společnost v the Czech Republic.
41 Commission of the Constitutional Court No. 32/2003 Coll.
42 Act No. 83/2004 Coll.
43 E.g. ECtHR 12 October 2010, Case No. 35836/05, Adamíček v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 13 October 2011, Case No. 26908/09 and 30809/10, Tieze a Semeráková v the Czech Republic.
44 Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 21 February 2012, Pl. ÚS 29/11.
45 Law No. 404/2012 Coll.; see also Resolution CM/ResDH(2013)58, 30 April 2013. It remains questionable, though, whether the amendment has resolved the whole issue.
46 ECtHR 2 February 2009, Case No. 22330/05, Olujić v Croatia.
47 Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)194, 2 December 2011.
48 ECtHR 8 April 2010, Case No. 40523/08, Peša v Croatia.
49 Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)195, 2 December 2011.
50 Resolution CM/ResDH(2013)244, 5 December 2013. See also E. Lambert Abdelgawad and A. Weber, ‘The Reception Process in France and Germany’, in Keller and Stone Sweet, supra n. 9, p. 107 at p. 135-136.
51 E.g. W. Sadurski, Rights Before Courts (Springer 2014) p. 67.
52 Stone Sweet and Keller, supra n. 17, p. 20. See also ‘Favourable attitude of the constitutional court’, below.
53 Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 12 August 2014, I. ÚS 3196/12, para 15.
54 Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 2 March 2015, I. ÚS 1565/14.
55 Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)266, 2 December 2011.
56 Id., referring to the judgment of the Spanish Constitutional Court, no. 34/2008.
57 ECtHR 15 January 2009, Case No. 28261/06, Ćosić v Croatia.
58 ECtHR 22 October 2009, Case No. 3572/06, Paulić v Croatia.
59 Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)48, 8 June 2011; K. Turković and J. Omejec, ‘Commitment to reform: Assessing the impact of the ECtHR’s case law on reinforcing democratization efforts in Croatian legal order’, in Motoc and Ziemele, supra n. 25, p. 119-120.
60 Bjørge, E., ‘National supreme courts and the development of ECHR rights’, 9 ICON (2011) p. 5 at p. 26Google Scholar.
61 Rackow, J., ‘From Conflict to Cooperation: The Relationship between Karlsruhe and Strasbourg’, in K. Ziegler et al. (eds.), The UK and European Human Rights: A Strained Relationship? (Hart 2015) p. 379 at p. 382Google Scholar.
63 Paulus, A., ‘From Implementation to Translation: Applying the ECtHR Judgments in the Domestic Legal Order’, in A. Seibert-Fohr and M.E. Villiger (eds.), Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights – Effects and Implementation (Nomos 2014) p. 273 at p. 278Google Scholar.
65 Ferreres Comella, supra n. 5, p. 140-142; Besselink, L., ‘The Proliferation of Constitutional Law and Constitutional Adjudication, or How American Judicial Review Came to Europe After All’, 9 Utrecht Law Review (2013) p. 19 at p. 25Google Scholar.
66 Judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic, 17 Feb 2010, Pst 1/2009-348.
67 Decision of the Czech Constitutional Court, 27 May 2010, Pl. ÚS 13/10.
68 Sadurksi, supra n. 7, p. 441.
70 See supra n. 12.
71 ECtHR 16 December 2008, Case No. 53025/99, Frankowicz v Poland.
72 Resolution CM/ResDH(2012)200, 6 December, 2012.
73 ECtHR 2 September 1998, Case No. 26138/95, Lauko v Slovakia.
74 ECtHR 2 September 1998, Case No. 27061/95, Kadubec v Slovakia.
75 Resolution DH (99) 554, 8 October 1999. See also M. Kryzyanowska-Mieryewska, ‘The Reception Process in Poland and Slovakia’, in Keller and Stone Sweet, supra n. 9, p. 579-580.
76 Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 17 January 2001, Pl. ÚS 9/2000.
77 ECtHR 6 November 2007, Case No. 22755/04, Chruściński v Poland.
78 Resolution CM/ResDH (2011) 142, 14 September 2011. See also Garlicki and Kondak, supra n. 11, p. 314.
79 Brewer-Carías, supra n. 69, p. 153-164.
80 Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 22 March 2005, Pl. ÚS 45/04.
81 Act No. 459/2011 Coll.
82 ECtHR 4 December 2008, Case No. 19970/04; Husák v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 26 March 2009, Case No. 39298/04 and 8723/05, Krejčíř v the Czech Republic; ECtHR 28 October 2010, Case No. 20157/05 Knebl v the Czech Republic.
83 Knebl, supra n. 82, para. 87.
84 ECtHR 30 November 2010, Case No. 23614/08, Henryk Urban and Ryszard Urban v Poland.
85 Garlicki and Kondak, supra n. 11, p. 317-318.
86 Paulus, supra n. 63, p. 273.
87 ECtHR 17 December 2009, Case No. 19359/04 M v Germany.
88 E. Klein, ‘Germany’, in Gerards and Fleuren, supra n. 10, p 207.
89 2 BvR 2365/09, 4 May 2011, 128 BVerfGE, 326. A press release in English is available at <www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/EN/2011/bvg11-031.html>, visited 8 July 2018.
90 Donald and Leach, supra n. 25, p. 288-289. See also the Communication from Germany concerning the case of M. and others against Germany (Application No. 19359/04), DH-DD(2014)1463, 1 December 2014, available at the HUDOC EXEC database (hudoc.exec.coe.int/).
91 This is not to say that the Italian Constitutional Court is the only one using such techniques. I have chosen the Italian examples because they have been well documented by Giuseppe Martinico (supra n. 16).
92 Italian Constitutional Court, judgment no. 236/2011. English translation available at: <www.cortecostituzionale.it/documenti/download/doc/recent_judgments/S2011236_Quaranta_Lattanzi_en.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018.
93 Martinico, supra n. 16, p. 74.
94 See Barsotti, V. et al., Italian Constitutional Justice in Global Context (Oxford University Press 2016) p. 54 Google Scholar; Ferejohn, J. and Pasquino, P., ‘Constitutional Adjudication, Italian Style’, in T. Ginsburg (ed.), Comparative Constitutional Design (Cambridge University Press 2014) p. 294 Google Scholar.
95 A. Pin, ‘A Jurisprudence to Handle with Care: The European Court of Human Rights’ Unsettled Case Law, its Authority, and its Future, According to the Italian Constitutional Court’, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, 1 May 2015, <www.iconnectblog.com/2015/04/mini-symposium-on-cc-judgment-49-2015>, visited 8 July 2018.
97 Such as excessive creativity, inconsistency with other judgments of the European Court, existence of strong dissenting opinions, the fact that the decision originates from an ordinary division and has not been endorsed by the Grand Chamber, or the fact that the European Court has failed to assess the particular characteristics of the national legal system. Italian Constitutional Court judgment no. 49/2015. English translation available at <www.cortecostituzionale.it/documenti/download/doc/recent_judgments/S49_2015_en.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018.
98 Pin, supra n. 95.
99 Russian Constitutional Court, 14 July 2015, No. 21-П/2015. English summary is available at <www.ksrf.ru/en/Decision/Judgments/Documents/resume%202015%2021-П.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018. See also L. Mälksoo, ‘Russia’s Constitutional Court Defies the European Court of Human Rights: Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation Judgment of 14 July 2015, No 21-П/2015’, 12 EuConst (2016) p. 377.
100 Russian Constitutional Court, 19 April 2016, No. 12-П/2016. English translation available at <www.ksrf.ru/en/Decision/Judgments/Documents/2016_April_19_12-P.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018. For the second time, the Russian Constitutional Court used this power in the Yukos case, which, however, concerned only individual measures of execution. See Russian Constitutional Court, 19 January 2017, No.1-П/2017, English translation available at <www.ksrf.ru/en/Decision/Judgments/Documents/2017_January_19_1-P.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018.
101 See M. Aksenova, ‘Anchugov and Gladkov is not Enforceable: the Russian Constitutional Court Opines in its First ECtHR Implementation Case’, Opinio Juris, 25 April 2016, <www.opiniojuris.org/2016/04/25/anchugov-and-gladkov-is-not-enforceable-the-russian-constitutional-court-opines-in-its-first-ecthr-implementation-case/>, visited 8 July 2018.
102 See European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Russian Federation: Final opinion on the amendments to the federal constitutional law on the Constitutional Court (2016) 10, <www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2016)016-e>, visited 8 July 2018.
103 ECtHR 24 November 1993, Case No. 13914/88; 15041/89; 15717/89; 15779/89; 17207/90, Informationsverein Lentia and Others v Austria.
104 Resolution DH (98) 142, 11 June 1998.
105 ECtHR 28 September 1999, Case No. 28114/95, Dalban v Romania.
106 Romanian Constitutional Court, Decision No. 62 of 18 January 2007. English translation available at <www.ccr.ro/files/products/D0062_07.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018.
107 High Court of Cassation and Justice (Romania), Decision No. 8 of 18 October 2010, as referred to in Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)73, 8 June 2011, and in the decision of the Romanian Constitutional Court, infra n. 108.
108 Romanian Constitutional Court, Decision No. 206 of 29 April 2013. English translation available at <www.ccr.ro/files/products/Decizie_206_2013en.pdf>, visited 8 July 2018.
109 Donald and Leach, supra n. 25, at p. 221.
110 Kosař and Petrov, supra n. 4; Helfer, supra n. 1.
111 See similarly Paris, supra n. 6.
112 If creative engagement is carried out in good faith, the ECHR system can profit from that. See ‘Favourable attitude of the constitutional court’ below, which argues that such engagement can amount to constitutional courts functioning as mediators between the national and the international within the ECHR system. Such a mediating function can be seen as another benefit of the partnership with constitutional courts.
113 All three groups of conditions matter for the constitutional courts’ capacity to play the roles of conductor or evaluator of jurisprudential and legislative implementation. A constitutional court’s self-correction capacity mostly depends on the attitude of the constitutional court. When a constitutional court’s design is subject to change (see above), the constitutional court’s role is rather passive. Consequently, I have left this aside when discussing partnership capacity.
115 Harding, A. et al., ‘Constitutional Courts: Forms, Functions and Practice in Comparative Perspective’, 3 JCL (2008) p. 1 Google Scholar at p. 7. Official reference denotes cases referred by a named official (president, ombudsman) or agency.
116 Garlicki, L., ‘Constitutional courts versus supreme courts’, 5 ICON (2007) p. 44 at p. 67Google Scholar.
117 See e.g. the Lithuanian Constitutional Court’s reaction to ECtHR [GC] 6 January 2011, Case No. 34932/04, Paksas v Lithuania. Padskocimaite, A., ‘Constitutional Courts and (Non)execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: A Comparison of Cases from Russia and Lithuania’, 77 Heidelberg J Int'l L (2017) p. 651 Google Scholar.
118 Paris, supra n. 6.
119 Keller and Stone Sweet, supra n. 9, p. 683.
120 Kommers, D. and Miller, R., ‘Das Bundesverfassungsgericht: Procedure, Practice and Policy of the German Federal Constitutional Court’, 3 JCL (2008) p. 194 at p. 202-203Google Scholar. I leave aside other powers such as deciding conflicts between state organs or conflicts between the central and local institutions, which are usually not crucial in the context of ECHR implementation.
122 Garlicki, supra n. 116, p. 67.
123 Art. 79 of the Polish Constitution.
124 Supra n. 94.
125 Groppi, T., ‘The Italian Constitutional Court: Towards a Multilevel System of Constitutional Review’, 3 JCL (2008) p. 100 at p. 102-103Google Scholar.
126 Groppi, T. and Spigno, I., ‘The Constitutional Court of Italy’, in A. Jakab et al., Comparative Constitutional Reasoning (Cambridge University Press 2017) p. 519 at p. 519Google Scholar. Italian judges have been quite active in this regard. The question is how this practice changes after the Italian Constitutional Court’s judgment no. 49/2015 (see supra n. 97).
127 Garlicki, supra n. 116, p. 67.
128 Ferejohn and Pasquino, supra n. 94, p. 306.
129 Anagnostou, supra n. 13, p. 218.
130 K. Bárd, ‘The legal order of Hungary and the European Convention on Human Rights’, in Motoc and Ziemele, supra n. 25, p. 183-184.
131 Kommers and Miller, supra n. 120, p. 55.
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138 See generally Jackson, V., ‘Constitutional Comparisons: Convergence, Resistance, Engagement’, 119 Harv. L. Rev. (2005) p. 109 at p. 116Google Scholar.
140 Sadurski, supra n. 7, p. 442.
141 See supra nn. 64, 99 and 108.
143 E.g. the Austrian Constitutional Court in the Miltner case, supra n. 64.
144 Kosař and Petrov, supra n. 4.
146 See Hunneeus, A., ‘Constitutional Lawyers and the Inter-American Court’s Varied Authority’, 79 Law and Contemporary Problems (2016) p. 179 at p. 180Google Scholar.
147 Aksenova, supra n. 101; Mälksoo, supra n. 99, p. 388 (both criticising the Russian Constitutional Court’s sovereignty-centred approach).
148 See, mutatis mutandis, J. Weiler, ‘Editorial: Judicial Ego’, 9 ICON (2011) p. 1.
149 C. O’Cinneide, ‘Human Rights within Multi-Layered Systems of Constitutional Governance: Rights Cosmopolitanism and Domestic Particularism in Tension’, 19 Irish Yrbk. Intl. L. (2010) p. 19.
150 Helfer, supra n. 1.
151 See supra n. 133.
152 Saul, M, ‘How and When Can the International Human Rights Judiciary Promote the Human Rights Role of National Parliaments?’, in M. Saul et al. (eds.), The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments: Europe and Beyond (Cambridge University Press 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; B. Cali, ‘From Flexible to Variable Standards of Judicial Review: The Responsible Courts Doctrine at The European Court Of Human Rights’, in Arnardóttir and Buyse, supra n. 136, p. 144.
155 See supra n. 1.