Limitation Period In Case-Law Of European Court Of Human Rights

Богдан Петрович Карнаух

Abstract


Limitation period is the time for an aggrieved person to apply to court. Notwithstanding that aggrieved person after the limitation period has lapsed does not lose substantial right, such a person does lose a right to apply to court for protection. Thus in the situation when a limitation period has lapsed substantial and procedural rules are tightly intertwined. On the one hand, this situation is about some requirements for bringing an action to the court; on the other hand, the loss of judicial protection significantly decreases the value of the substantial right. That is why the improper application of limitation period potentially can threaten all fundamental human rights. Limitation period is a traditional issue in private law. That is why many scholars have addressed it. T. M. Vakhonyeva, V. V. Luts’, O. V. Pushnyak, V. I. Tsikalo, O. V. Shovkova are amongst them. Nevertheless the issue has never been analyzed systematically through the perspective of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The main objective of the paper is to analyze the limitation period from the standpoint of its congruence to different provisions embodied in European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

First of all the author pays attention to ECtHR case-law concerning the right to a fair trial. In that context limitation period is deemed to constitute a restriction of a right to a fair trial. But such a restriction is not in itself inconsistent with the Convention. In many cases such a restriction is justified first and foremost for the sake of providing legal certainty, which is one of the important aspects of rule of law. Also the author addresses the problem of congruence of limitation period to some other provisions of ECHR, such as: prohibition of discrimination, right to respect for private and family life, protection of property.

Limitation period constitute a restriction of a right to access to court. Such a restriction is justified if (a) it does not restrict a right to access to court in such a way that the very essence of that right is nullified; (b) it has a legitimate purpose; (c) the proper balance between the purpose aimed and the restriction is struck. In order for the limitation period to be proportionate with the aim of providing legal certainty, the following requirements should be met: (i) the limitation period is not unduly short; (ii) the application of limitation period is foreseeable; (iii) the application of limitation period is flexible (i.e. it is capable of taking into account different individual characteristics of each case).

Recent research and publications analysis. Limitation period is a traditional issue in private law. That is why many scholars have addressed it. T. M. Vakhonyeva, V. V. Luts', O. V. Pushnyak, V. I. Tsikalo, O. V. Shovkova are amongst them. Nevertheless the issue has never been analyzed systematically through the perspective of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Paper objective. The main objective of the paper is to analyze the limitation period from the standpoint of its congruence to different provisions embodied in European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Paper main body. First of all the author pays attention to ECtHR case-law concerning the right to a fair trial. In that context limitation period is deemed to constitute a restriction of a right to a fair trial. But such a restriction is not in itself inconsistent with the Convention. In many cases such a restriction is justified first and foremost for the sake of providing legal certainty, which is one of the important aspects of rule of law. Also the author addresses the problem of congruence of limitation period to some other provisions of ECHR, such as: prohibition of discrimination, right to respect for private and family life, protection of property.

Conclusions of the research. Limitation period constitute a restriction of a right to access to court. Such a restriction is justified if (a) it does not restrict a right to access to court in such a way that the very essence of that right is nullified; (b) it has a legitimate purpose; (c) the proper balance between the purpose aimed and the restriction is struck. In order for the limitation period to be proportionate with the aim of providing legal certainty, the following requirements should be met: (i) the limitation period is not unduly short; (ii) the application of limitation period is foreseeable; (iii) the application of limitation period is flexible (i.e. it is capable of taking into account different individual characteristics of each case).

Keywords


limitation period; right to a fair trial; access to court; property; prohibition of discrimination

References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21564/2414-990x.134.71276

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