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The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms provides legal protection and protection of rights not only for individuals but also for legal entities. Article 34 allows all non-governmental organizations to apply to the ECtHR for violations of their rights at the same level as individuals.

This is quite natural,  because a legal entity in a democratic society has the same rights and responsibilities as an individual, except for those that by their nature can only belong to man.

Who is considered a non-governmental organization?

Whether a particular legal entity can be an applicant is always decided by the Court at its own discretion when considering the admissibility of each case separately.

In the context of the European Convention, a non-governmental organization is any organization which does not have the functions of a public authority and which has no right to act on its behalf. This is a fairly wide range of possible applicants, which includes both private companies and various unions, leagues, charities, foundations, foundations, associations. It should be noted that the possibility of applying to the Court for protection of the rights of a legal person does not depend on the recognition of its status under national law, which was confirmed, in particular, in the case of Canea Catholic Church v. Greece ».


What rights can a legal entity defend before the European Court?

Of course, not all rights set out in the Convention apply to non-governmental organizations. It is hardly possible to speak of a violation of the right to life, the prohibition of torture or the right to privacy in the case of a legal person.

However, many rights can indeed be exercised by non-governmental organizations. Perhaps the most common are appeals for protection of property rights under Art. 1 of Protocol I. The ECtHR is also often referred to for violations of Art. 9 ECHR (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Art. 10 (right to freedom of expression), Art. 11 (right to freedom of assembly and association) and Art. 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

In addition, the basic procedural rights provided for in particular by Articles 6, 7, 13 and 18 of the European Convention are reserved for legal persons.


Application procedure:

According to Art. 34 of the European Convention, a legal entity has the right to apply to the ECtHR in the form of an individual application on the official application form to the ECtHR.

Article 35 of the Convention sets out the criteria which are essential for the Court to declare the application admissible:

  1. Confirmation of the exhaustion of national remedies

  2. Compliance with the deadline of 6 months after the final decision at the national level.

  3. Correctness of the content of the statement:

  • the application concerns only those rights guaranteed by the ECHR,

  • the rights were violated directly in respect of the applicant himself,

  • the declaration must be directed against the State which has ratified the Convention and the relevant protocols.

It should be noted that in order for a legal entity's application to be considered admissible, it is necessary to attach documents confirming that the natural person who submitted the application has the right or authority to represent the applicant's interests.


Do you have questions regarding the procedure for applying to the European Court of Human Rights? Seek advice from the staff of the Podilskyi Legal Center!

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