Thank you, Justice Tulkens: A comment on the dissent in N v UK

According to HUDOC, Judge Tulkens sat on the panel of 1843 ECtHR judgments, amongst which 217 Grand Chamber judgments. The same source lists as her oldest judgment the article 6 case of Van Pelt v. France on 23 May 2000. As HUDOC – however wonderful – has its imperfections, we cannot know  for certain whether this was actually her first judgment. Yet it would be suitable if it were so, as this judgment already has a (partly) dissenting opinion by Françoise Tulkens, written jointly with Sir Nicolas Bratza. Contrary to the majority, they thought that a violation of the reasonable term requirement should have been found.  So for those who were wondering: yes, she has been this formidable judge from the very beginning: never just following the flow of the majority opinion (whether the majority in the Court or that in society), always checking the case at hand against the fundamentals of what human rights protection is supposed to be about: justice, equality, freedom.  That is why many of us – who consider it our jobs to critically scrutinize the Court’s work for sloppiness on those same fundamentals – so often find ourselves agreeing with her separate opinions.

For this blogging tribute, I chose to discuss a case in which the fundamentals of human rights protection are a lot more prominent than in the above-mentioned reasonable term judgment. It is the Grand Chamber case of N v UK of 27 May 2008, in which the 9 page-long reasoning of the majority is followed by a 12 page dissent, co-authored by Judges Tulkens, Bonello and Spielmann.

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