Coherence and the European Court of Human Rights: The Adjudicative Background to the Soering Case

On January 1, 1990, the Eighth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights came into force. This Protocol makes some amendments to the structure and procedure set out in the Convention itself. The need for reform was created by the increasing workload of the institutions, which had reached such a level that the backlog of applications before the Commission would have continued to increase at a greater rate than the Commission’s capacity to dispose of them. There are several reasons for this overwhelming burden. The acceptances by States of the right of individual application under article 25 have been increasing. By the end of 1989 all the parties to the Convention had made declarations under article 25. An increasing proportion of applications were being made with legal assistance, with the result that the applicants were better prepared and more likely to raise issues which could not be peremptorily dismissed. In addition, the development of the caselaw of the Convention by the Court was opening possibilities for successful application on a range of questions which covered common, not exceptional, circumstances.