Current Legal Problems Lecture Series 2013-14
Whither the margin of appreciation?
President Dean Spielman
(European Court of Human Rights)
Chaired by The Rt Hon The Lord Neuberger
Thursday 20 March 2014
from 6 - 7pm
The doctrine of the margin of appreciation may be regarded as being among the most prominent judge-made legal constructs in European human rights jurisprudence. It is an analytical tool that guides the European Court in its examination of the complaints raised under many, but not all, provisions of the Convention and its Protocols. It makes for a body of human rights law that accepts pluralism over uniformity, as long as the fundamental guarantees are effectively observed. Alongside its normative function, the doctrine pursues what may be termed a systemic objective. It devolves a large measure of responsibility for scrutinising the acts or omissions of national authorities to the national courts, placing them in their natural, primary role in the protection of human rights. It is therefore neither a gift nor a concession, but more an incentive to the domestic judge to conduct the necessary Convention review, realising in this way the principle of subsidiarity. Protocol No. 15, adopted in May 2013 and currently in the process of ratification by the 47 Contracting Parties, will add to the Preamble of the Convention references to both the margin of appreciation and subsidiarity. What are the implications of this reform for the Strasbourg Court? And for national courts?
Biography of the speaker
Dean Spielmann studied at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (United Kingdom). He became a member of the Luxembourg Bar in 1989. As a lawyer he worked in various fields, including administrative law, civil and criminal law and human rights law. He acted as Counsel in a number of cases before the Commission and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He was also a member of the Bar Council and the Disciplinary and Administrative Council of the Legal Profession, as well as sitting on various committees of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).
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