Akeen student of human rights, who is aware of the principle of stare decisis at the heart of the doctrine of judicial precedent and the exceptions to it provided by the 1966 Practice Statement for the Supreme Court and the Young criteria for the Court of Appeal (see pp. 22–23), may ask if the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg also follows its own precedents. Any answer to such a question gets a little complicated…
Judicial precedent is taught in the first year of an A-level law course and you will often not be studying the ECtHR and its rulings until well into year 13. Simply telling year 12 students that the court in Strasbourg views itself as a ‘dynamic institution’ which employs the ‘doctrine of the margin of appreciation’ is of little help. This article attempts to explain those two concepts.
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