Decisions of a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights can be referred by either party for reconsideration by the Grand Chamber. These referral applications are then decided upon by a panel of five judges, which decides whether they raise sufficiently ‘serious’ questions for the Grand Chamber to be convened. The process and principles by which the panel makes this decision are, however, somewhat opaque and rates of success in such referrals are very low. This paper builds on original analysis of referral patterns and interviews with judges of the European Court of Human Rights to assess what constitutes ‘seriousness’ in this context. The paper argues that this analysis suggests that seriousness in this context is best understood by reference to a developing constitutionalist identity on the part of the Grand Chamber, rather than to the perceived seriousness of an alleged rights violation per se, thus reinforcing the growing characterization of the Court as a constitutionalist tribunal for Europe.


This event is co-hosted with the Oxford Martin School, Human Rights for Future Generations Programme.

Refreshments will be provided. We looking forward to seeing you there!

OxHRH and HRFG Team