Written & Oral Observations


Written pleadings

 I.   Filing of pleadings


 1. A pleading must be filed with the Registry within the time-limit fixed in accordance with Rule 38 of the Rules of Court and in the manner described in paragraph 2 of that Rule.

 2. The date on which a pleading or other document is received at the Court’s Registry will be recorded on that document by a receipt stamp.

 3. With the exception of pleadings and documents for which a system of electronic filing has been set up (see the relevant practice directions), all other pleadings, as well as all documents annexed thereto, should be submitted to the Court’s Registry in three copies sent by post or in one copy by fax2, followed by three copies sent by post.

4. Pleadings or other documents submitted by electronic mail shall not be accepted.

5. Secret documents should be filed by registered post.

6. Unsolicited pleadings shall not be admitted to the case file unless the President of the Chamber decides otherwise (see Rule 38 § 1).

Filing by fax

7. A party may file pleadings or other documents with the Court by sending them by fax.

8. The name of the person signing a pleading must also be printed on it so that he or she can be identified.

Electronic filing 

9. The Court may authorise the Government of a Contracting Party or, after the communication of an application, an applicant to file pleadings and other documents electronically. In such cases, the practice direction on written pleadings shall apply in conjunction with the practice directions on electronic filing.

II.   Form and contents


10. A pleading should include:

(a) the application number and the name of the case;

(b) a title indicating the nature of the content (e.g., observations on admissibility [and the merits]; reply to the Government’s/the applicant’s observations on admissibility [and the merits]; observations on the merits; additional observations on admissibility [and the merits]; memorial etc.).

11. In addition, a pleading should normally:

(a) be in an A4 page format having a margin of not less than 3.5 cm wide;

(b) be typed and wholly legible, the text appearing in at least 12 pt in the body and 10 pt in the footnotes, with one-and-a-half line spacing;

(c) have all numbers expressed as figures; (d) have pages numbered consecutively; (e) be divided into numbered paragraphs;

(f) be divided into chapters and/or headings corresponding to the form and style of the Court’s decisions and judgments (“Facts”/“Domestic law [and practice]”/“Complaints”/“Law”; the latter chapter should be followed by headings entitled “Preliminary objection on …”, “Alleged violation of Article …”, as the case may be); 

(g) place any answer to a question by the Court or to the other party’s arguments under a separate heading;

(h) give a reference to every document or piece of evidence mentioned in the pleading and annexed thereto;

(i) if sent by post, have its text printed on one side of the page only and pages and attachments placed together in such a way as to enable them to be easily separated (they must not be glued or stapled).

12. If a pleading exceptionally exceeds thirty pages, a short summary should also be filed with it.

13. Where a party produces documents and/or other exhibits together with a pleading, every piece of evidence should be listed in a separate annex.


14. The parties’ pleadings following communication of the application should include: (a) any comments they wish to make on the facts of the case; however,

(i) if a party does not contest the facts as set out in the statement of facts prepared by the

Registry, it should limit its observations to a brief statement to that effect;

(ii) if a party contests only part of the facts as set out by the Registry, or wishes to supplement them, it should limit its observations to those specific points;

(iii) if a party objects to the facts or part of the facts as presented by the other party, it should state clearly which facts are uncontested and limit its observations to the points in dispute;

(b) legal arguments relating firstly to admissibility and, secondly, to the merits of the case; however, (i) if  specific questions on  a  factual or  legal  point were  put  to  a  party, it  should, without prejudice to Rule 55, limit its arguments to such questions;

(ii) if a pleading replies to arguments of the other party, submissions should refer to the specific arguments in the order prescribed above.

15. (a) The parties’ pleadings following the admission of the application should include:

(i) a short statement confirming a party’s position on the facts of the case as established in the decision on admissibility;

(ii) legal arguments relating to the merits of the case;

(iii) a reply to any specific questions on a factual or legal point put by the Court.

(b) An applicant party submitting claims for just satisfaction at the same time should do so in the manner described in the practice direction on filing just satisfaction claims.

16. In view of the confidentiality of friendly-settlement proceedings (see Article 39 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 62 § 2), all submissions and documents filed as part of the attempt to secure a friendly settlement should be submitted separately from the written pleadings.

17. No reference to offers, concessions or other statements submitted in connection with the friendly settlement may be made in the pleadings filed in the contentious proceedings.

III.   Time-limits


18. It is the responsibility of each party to ensure that pleadings and any accompanying documents or evidence are delivered to the Court’s Registry in time.

Extension of time-limits

19. A time-limit set under Rule 38 may be extended on request from a party.

20. A party seeking an extension of the time allowed for submission of a pleading must make a request as soon as it has become aware of the circumstances justifying such an extension and, in any event, before the expiry of the time-limit. It should state the reason for the delay.

21. If an extension is granted, it shall apply to all parties for which the relevant time-limit is running, including those which have not asked for it.

IV.   Failure to comply with requirements for pleadings

22. Where  a  pleading  has  not  been  filed  in  accordance  with  the  requirements  set  out  in paragraphs 8 to 15 of this practice direction, the President of the Chamber may request the party concerned to resubmit the pleading in compliance with those requirements.

23. A failure to satisfy the conditions listed above may result in the pleading being considered not to have been properly lodged (see Rule 38 § 1).

Oral pleadings (hearings)


 The term “hearing” and “hearings” refers to oral proceedings held on the admissibility and/or merits of an application or in connection with a request for revision or an advisory opinion, a request for interpretation by a party or by the Committee of Ministers, or a question whether there has been a failure to fulfill an obligation which may be referred to the Court by virtue of Article 46 § 4 of the Convention.

Public character of hearings

1. Hearings shall be public unless, the Chamber in exceptional circumstances decides otherwise, either of its own motion or at the request of a party or any other person concerned.

2. The press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a hearing in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the Chamber in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

3. Any request for a hearing to be held in camera made under paragraph 1 of this Rule must include reasons and specify whether it concerns all or only part of the hearing (see, Rule 63).

Conduct of hearings

1. The President of the Chamber shall organise and direct hearings and shall prescribe the order in which those appearing before the Chamber shall be called upon to speak.

2. Any judge may put questions to any person appearing before the Chamber (see, Rule 64).

Failure to appear

Where a party or any other person due to appear fails or declines to do so, the Chamber may, provided that it is satisfied that such a course is consistent with the proper administration of justice, nonetheless proceed with the hearing (see, Rule 65).

Verbatim record of a hearings

1. If the President of the Chamber so directs, the Registrar shall be responsible for the making of a verbatim record of the hearing. Any such record shall include:

(a) the composition of the Chamber;

(b) a list of those appearing before the Chamber;

(c) the text of the submissions made, questions put and replies given; (d) the text of any ruling delivered during the hearing.

2. If all or part of the verbatim record is in a non-official language, the Registrar shall arrange for its translation into one of the official languages.

3. The representatives of the parties shall receive a copy of the verbatim record in order that they may, subject to the control of the Registrar or the President of the Chamber, make corrections, but in no case may such corrections affect the sense and bearing of what was said. The Registrar shall lay down, in accordance with the instructions of the President of the Chamber, the time-limits granted for this purpose.

4. The verbatim record, once so corrected shall be signed by the President of the Chamber and the Registrar and shall then constitute certified matters of record (see, Rule 70).

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