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Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013 – The Winners!

March 18, 2014

Now that a little over a month has passed since the opening of the polls and over 250 votes have been cast, it is time to announce the winners – and ‘winners’ – in the categories of best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2013!

In the category of best judgment, celebrating the best the ECtHR had to offer in 2013, Vallianatos and Others v. Greece takes the prize with 22.5% of the vote, just ahead of Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary (17%) and Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom (13.5%). In Vallianatos, the Grand Chamber of the Court took an incremental step towards full equality for LGBT by ruling that Contracting States that introduce a system of registered partnerships have to open that system up to same-sex couples, since barring them entails unjustified discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the category of worst judgment, indicating that there is always room for improvement, the ‘winner’ is even clearer. By far the worst ECtHR judgment of 2013, according to the votes received, was Delfi AS v. Estonia. Delfi received an impressive 37% of the vote, double that of the second placed Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom (18.5%), with Bouyid v. Belgium landing a solid third place with 15% of the vote. Fortunately, this is one of those wonderful cases in which we are able to report that bad news is followed by good news, since the ‘winner’ in the category of worst judgment – Delfi - has recently been referred to the Grand Chamber, offering the Court a chance to redeem itself!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2014 5:07 pm

    Many thanks for organising your illuminating poll! For anyone who wants to read more about Vallianatos, may we recommend this posting in our Case Watch series: http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/case-watch-court-rulings-juxtapose-stark-regional-differences-gay-rights

  2. March 18, 2014 5:21 pm

    Funny that the 3 “worsts” judgments don’t find a violation of the ECHR, while the 3 “best” judgments do find a violation. Seems like a slightly teleological approach to “quality”, which should mostly rely to good legal reasoning, irrespective of the outcome.

  3. Eva permalink
    March 21, 2014 3:10 am

    The worst decision by far was one concerning Janowiec vs. Russia. Members of families of the Polish officers murdered by Soviet Russians and Katyn and elsewhere (some 21,000 murders in this affair alone) sued Russia for pain and suffering incurred by the families. They lost. The Russians could afford the best lawyers, the survivors of Soviet murders lived in poverty for half a century. For the Tribunal to decide against them and in favor of Russia shows that the rich and powerful can influence even this august body.

    • March 21, 2014 1:12 pm

      Again, what does “worst” mean? Are you criticising the result or the legal reasoning? I think that people tend to forget that Human Rights Law is first and foremost about Law, not just about perceived moral fairness. If not, why do we bother with actually going to Court? there should just be a presumption of violation of the ECHR in the name of progress. That would make you happy, without any requirement for actual legal reasoning…

      In the Katyn case, the argument on non-retroactivity of the convention to events that took place 60 years before the entry into force of the convention is not unreasonable, even if you don’t agree with it, especially as the “procedural obligations” that the ECHR case law has come up with are already teleologically implied obligations which are not in the Counventino in the first place.

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