A flight without passengers – new pilot judgment issued

The Court issued a pilot judgment last week in the case of Rumpf v. Germany. After reading the judgment it seems important to remind ourselves once more about the nature and objective of the pilot judgment procedure (PJP). It is described by Erik Fribergh, Registrar of the Court: “Rather than deal with these cases in the standard, individual way, the object of the procedure, right from the start, is to help create the conditions at national level in which all of these pending and potential claims can be settled. The specific feature of the PJP is that instead of dealing with each individual case, the Court singles out one or a small number of applications for priority treatment and adjourns all other applications until the pilot case has been decided.”[1]

The PJP was introduced as a tool to help the Court to deal with the case-load and at the same time to secure human rights of the actual or potential applicants by the changes at a national level. In the present case the Court decided to skip the first objective of the PJP – dealing with the case-load of the Court. There has been a special protocol made to deal with the case-load of the Court, academics and politicians have been involved in finding tools to deal with the situation. But when the Court comes to the point where it can use the tool developed, it changes its mind! In the present case the Court did not consider it necessary to adjourn the examination of similar cases pending the implementation of the relevant measures by the respondent State. Rather, the Court found that continuing to process all length of proceedings cases in the usual manner will remind the respondent State on a regular basis of its obligation under the Convention and in particular resulting from this judgment (paragraph 75).

What can be said about a move like this…The pilot left the passengers at the gate! I would like to show you the list the Court itself made and put into the present judgment. These are recent cases where the Court had found a violation of the reasonable-time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention regarding civil proceedings (the issue at stake in the present case). The Court seems to be willing to continue it: Nold v. Germany, no. 27250/02, 29 June 2006; Stork v. Germany, no. 38033/02, 13 July 2006; Grässer v. Germany, no. 66491/01, 5 October 2006; Klasen v. Germany, no. 75204/01, 5 October 2006; Herbst v. Germany, no. 20027/02, 11 January 2007; Kirsten v. Germany, no. 19124/02, 15 February 2007; Laudon v. Germany, no. 14635/03, 26 April 2007; Skugor v. Germany, no. 76680/01, 10 May 2007; Nanning v. Germany, no. 39741/02, 12 July 2007; Glüsen v. Germany, no. 1679/03, 10 January 2008; Bähnk v. Germany, no. 10732/05, 9 October 2008; Leela Förderkreis e.V. and Others v. Germany, no. 58911/00, 6 November 2008; Adam v. Germany, no. 44036/02, 4 December 2008; Bozlar v. Germany, no. 7634/05, 5 March 2009; Deiwick v. Germany, no. 7369/04, 26 March 2009; Hub v. Germany, no. 1182/05, 9 April 2009; Ballhausen v. Germany, no. 1479/08, 23 April 2009; Evelyne Deiwick v. Germany, no. 17878/04, 11 June 2009; Mianowicz v. Germany (no. 2), no. 71972/01, 11 June 2009; Bayer v. Germany, no. 8453/04, 16 July 2009; D.E. v. Germany, no. 1126/05, 16 July 2009; Kindereit v. Germany, no. 37820/06, 8 October 2009; Sopp v. Germany, no. 47757/06, 8 October 2009; Abduvalieva v. Germany, no. 54215/08, 26 November 2009; Von Koester v. Germany (no. 1), no. 40009/04, 7 January 2010; Wildgruber v. Germany, nos. 42402/05 and 42423/05, 21 January 2010; Kurt Müller v. Germany, no. 36395/07, 25 February 2010; and Niedzwiecki v. Germany (no. 2), no. 12852/08, 1 April 2010, Kressin v. Germany, no. 21061/06, 22 December 2009; Jesse v. Germany, no. 10053/08, 22 December 2009; Petermann v. Germany, no. 901/05, 25 March 2010; Reinhard v. Germany, no. 485/09, 25 March 2010; Ritter-Coulais v. Germany, 32338/07, 30 March 2010; Sinkovec v. Germany, no. 46682/07, 30 March 2010; Volkmer v. Germany, no. 54188/07, 30 March 2010; Kuchejda v. Germany 17384/06, 24 June 2010; Schädlich v. Germany, 21423/07, 24 June 2010; Afflerbach v. Germany, 39444/08, 24 June 2010; and Perschke v. Germany, 25756/09, 24 June 2010.

[1] http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/43C75D00-0F57-4176-8A7C-0AE28DBD4EE8/0/StockholmdiscoursFribergh0910062008.pdf

One thought on “A flight without passengers – new pilot judgment issued

  1. It is indeed quite surprising that the Court did expressely label Rumpf as a Pilot-case rather than a quasi-pilot case. Lukenda v Slovenia on a similar problem is considered as a quasi-pilot case, despite the presence of injunctions in the operative part of the judgment. In Lukenda or similar italian cases, the adjournment of procedure is not applied as well.
    It is true that the Registry has published a note on this procedure where it is said explicitly that adjournment is not automatic in pilot case but so far it has been applied in all pilot cases but Rumpf.
    The logic behind the pilot procedure is not followed with such a case. Despite being controversial, adjournment of examination of similar cases has been considered as a fundamental element for the achievement of the objectives of the pilot case procedure.
    Germany’s failure or reluctance to implement the reform that the government had put forward in the case Sürmeli, to solve the problem of excessive length of procedure, may explain the position of the Court but then there was no need to call this case a pilot case.
    Maybe the Court wanted to use this case to demonstrate that it is ready to apply this procedure to any member states and not only to Eastern European countries?

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