Protocol No. 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights empowers the European Court of Human Rights to issue advisory opinions on matters of principle regarding the interpretation of the application of the rights and freedoms defined by the Convention or its attached protocols.
The purpose of the advisory opinion procedure is to increase the level of interaction between the Court and the national courts and tribunals of the Contracting Parties to the Convention.
Article 1 of the Protocol No. 16 states the following:
The highest courts and tribunals of a High Contracting Party, as specified in accordance with Article 10, may request the Court to give advisory opinions on questions of principle relating to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention or the protocols thereto.
The requesting court or tribunal may seek an advisory opinion only in the context of a case pending before it.
The requesting court or tribunal shall give reasons for its request and shall provide the relevant legal and factual background of the pending case.
Article 2 of the Protocol No. 16 stipulates:
A panel of five judges of the Grand Chamber shall decide whether to accept the request for an advisory opinion, having regard to Article 1. The panel shall give reasons for any refusal to accept the request.
If the panel accepts the request, the Grand Chamber shall deliver the advisory opinion.
The panel and the Grand Chamber, as referred to in the preceding paragraphs, shall include ex officio the judge elected in respect of the High Contracting Party to which the requesting court or tribunal pertains. If there is none or if that judge is unable to sit, a person chosen by the President of the Court from a list submitted in advance by that Party shall sit in the capacity of judge.
In the Republic of Armenia, only the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court are able to request an advisory opinion from the Court.