In a “keynote address” to the Bar Conference yesterday, Sir Nicolas Bratza noted that delays are steadily increasing at the European Court of Human Rights. Bratza is now the third most senior of the Strasbourg judges and a vice-president.
As I explained here a year ago, new streamlined procedures aimed at reducing delays have been blocked by Russia for the past three years. Most people have given given up any hope that Russia will ratify protocol 14, which implements the reforms, and Bratza gave no hint in his speech of any breakthrough.
But Strasbourg insiders say they now expect Russia to ratify the new procedures after all — though it’s not known when.
That would have the effect of limiting Bratza’s next term of office, meaning he is unlikely to become the court’s president. Instead, I would expect him to return to the Court of Appeal — he is already a High Court judge — and, before long, to the Supreme Court.
His knowledge of Strasbourg jurisprudence will make him a hugely valuable member. It would also be entirely appropriate since he is descended on his mother’s side from the Russells of Killowen, a family that produced three generations of law lords.