Bringing a case to the ECtHR

Access to the ECtHR

The Convention does not impose any conditions on access to the ECtHR. In fact, the case may be referred to the ECtHR by anyone who claims to be the victim of a violation by one of the Contracting States of the rights or freedoms recognised by the Convention. This may be the case for:

- natural persons: nationality, place of residence, civil status and legal capacity are not relevant;

- non-governmental organisations: any organisation that does not exercise public power;

- groups of individuals: informal associations, without legal personality, usually temporarily made up of several natural persons.

The purpose of applications

Applications to the ECtHR allege violations of rights or freedoms guaranteed by the Convention and its protocols, which are as follows:


  • right to life
  • prohibition of torture and of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
  • prohibition of slavery and forced labour
  • right to liberty and security
  • right to a fair trial
  • legality of penalties and prohibition of retroactive application of the criminal law
  • right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of assembly and association
  • right to marry
  • right to an effective remedy
  • prohibition of discrimination

Protocol No. 1 

  • right to respect for property
  • right to education
  • right to free elections

Protocol No. 4 

  • prohibition of imprisonment for debt
  • freedom of movement
  • prohibition of expulsion of nationals
  • prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens

Protocol No. 7 

  • procedural safeguards relating to expulsion of aliens
  • right to appeal in criminal matters
  • compensation for wrongful conviction
  • right not to be tried or punished twice
  • equality between spouses

Protocol No. 12 

  • general prohibition of discrimination

Form and content of applications

The application must be submitted in writing on the official form provided by the Registry and available on the ECtHR website. The form contains numerous fields, all of which must be completed. It contains three pages for the statement of facts, two pages for the statement of alleged violations and one page for the compliance with the admissibility criteria. This information should be sufficient to enable the ECtHR to determine the nature and purpose of the application without having to consult other documents. The applicant may, however, supplement them by attaching to the form observations of a maximum length of twenty pages.

The form must be accompanied by copies of all relevant documents, in particular judicial or other decisions relating to the subject-matter of the application, and those establishing that the applicant has exhausted domestic remedies and observed the four-month time-limit laid down in the Convention.

The application must be sent by post only. The postmark will be taken as proof that the four-month period has been observed.