Jurisconsult of the Court (2006-2013)

Vincent BERGER has been the Court jurisconsult for seven years (1 March 2006 to 28 February 2013; Annex A).

 

1. The jurisconsult is chosen by the Bureau of the Court (composed of the President of the Court and the five Section Presidents) and appointed by the General Secretary of the Council of Europe, after a competition open to nationals of forty-seven Member States of the organization. He has the rank of Director in the Council of Europe.

2. The main task of the jurisconsult is to help the Court to maintain the quality and consistency of its jurisprudence. To this end, it provides a jurisprudential standby and attempts to prevent conflicts of law. Its action takes practical aspects.

a) The jurisconsult reviews all drafts – mainly draft judgments and decisions - listed on the agenda of the weekly meetings of each of the five sections, in which the chambers are comprised.

If necessary - it is almost always the case - he writes observations addressed to all judges of the Court and Registry officials (registrars and heads of division). He warns against discrepancies or omissions of jurisprudence, reports of similar cases being at a more advanced stage, suggests waiting the judgment of the Grand Chamber in a case pending before it and that asks a similar question, highlights imperfections or deficiencies of a motivation, suggests solutions, etc.
He has the ability to attend to the deliberation of a Chamber devoted to a particularly important and delicate matter.

b) The jurisconsult receives all files in the cases before the Grand Chamber, including draft judgments and decisions.
He may take part in all deliberations of this supreme judgment formation, what he always does for the first deliberations, that is to say those who are held after the hearing and conclude with the provisional votes.

He attends all the deliberations of the panel of the Grand Chamber, which rules on requests for referral of cases tried in chambers.

c) The jurisconsult assists the Conflict Resolution Board (composed of the President of the Court and the five Section Presidents). He refers to the Board for all important questions of interpretation of the Convention and when are emerging more or less clearly differences in approach between sections, he prepares notes thereto, presents its analysis in the light of the case law, makes proposals to restore harmony (for example, the invitation to the relinquishment of jurisdiction of a chamber in favour of the Grand Chamber, or acceptance by the panel of a request for referral of a case to the Grand Chamber).

d) The jurisconsult provides legal advice to the Section Presidents, judges rapporteurs and Registry lawyers who request him for the application processing.

e) The jurisconsult offers each year to the Court Bureau selected judgments and decisions worthy of bilingual publication in the official collection (Reports of Judgments and Decisions).

 3. In addition, the jurisconsult has information tasks:

a) A regular, always confidential, task: he writes a weekly flash jurisprudence intended only judges and Registry lawyers and devoted to developments in sections during the past week. With particular emphasis on the "value added" case law, it intends not only to inform, but above all contribute to the treatment of chamber business by alerting those who are responsible for their preparation (lawyers, registrars and judges rapporteurs) and their outcome (members of judgment formations of the Court).

b) An episodic, sometimes public, task: he acts as a "case-law spokesman" before national or international institutions (Annex B) as well as before the media. At the request of the Court, he writes notes (eg on the principle of subsidiarity, for the High Level Conference on the Future of the Court, held in Interlaken in February 2010).

4. Finally, in a number of Grand Chamber cases, the jurisconsult does registrar functions (Annex C). He sits alongside the judges at hearings and deliberations, and supervise the work of lawyers in charge of the case.

5. Besides that tasks, the jurisconsult is the head of a direction that brings together several sectors.

a) The Registry of the Grand Chamber

b) The Research and Library Division

This Division undertakes international law, comparative law and national law studies, and writes notes on case law, especially for the Grand Chamber; it establishes and publishes research reports and guides on the Court case law.

c) The Case Law Information and Publications Division

The Division prepares the edition of the judgments and decisions to be published in the official collection; it manages the HUDOC database; it writes the Information Notes on the Court’s Case-Law (monthly publication containing summaries of cases that are of particular interest); it leads the case law translation programme in non-official languages; it cooperates with the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

d) The Just Satisfaction Division

It assists the Court for the assessment of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages suffered by the victims of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and for the calculation of costs and expenses incurred before domestic courts and the Court.

6. Since 1 July 2014, the Rules of Court include a Rule 18B, entitled "Jurisconsult" and reads: "For the purposes of ensuring the quality and consistency of its case-law, the Court shall be assisted by a Jurisconsult. He or she shall be a member of the Registry. The Jurisconsult shall provide opinions and information, in particular to the judicial formations and the members of the Court." 

Annex A
Vincent Berger, Jurisconsult

1. Contribution of Jean-Paul Costa, President of the ECHR from January 2007 to November 2011, to Liber amicorum Vincent Berger (pp. 1-7).

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2. Contribution of Marin Voicu, former judge of the ECHR, to Liber amicorum Vincent Berger (pp. 431-436).

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3. Contribution of Erik Fribergh, Registrar of the ECHR, and Roderick Liddell, Director of Common Services of the Registry of the ECHR, to Liber amicorum Vincent Berger (pp. 177-187).

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Annex B
Jurisconsult hearings

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Annex C
Grand Chamber Registrar

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