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.

Professor Fiona de Londras
Fiona de Londras is a Professor of Law at Durham University. She is currently a Visiting Fellow of the Oxford Human Rights Hub and a Visiting Associate for the Human Rights for Future Generations, Oxford Martin School.

Recently her work has focused EU counter-terrorism as part of the FP7-funded SECILE project, which she leads in Durham.

Prof de Londras is joint editor-in-chief of the Irish Yearbook of International Law and co-editor of Legal Studies, the journal of the Society of Legal Scholars of the UK and Ireland.

Her research and teaching interests are in the fields of human rights and comparative constitutional law with a particular focus on counter-terrorism.

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