Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beware of "government by judges"

It looks like the UK is not the only country where the confusing and expanding powers of the European Court of Human Rights and EU's European Court of Justice are testing nerves.

Marc Bossuyt, the President of Belgian Constitutional Court, has, for the second time, fired a warning shot at both the ECHR in Strasbourg and the EU's ECJ.

In a speech welcoming his Francophone colleague, he laments that the two European courts are taking on more and more powers by extending their competences, and warns that this is creating a serious threat of a "government by judges".

With the EU set to sign up to the ECHR this issue is only going to get more confusing (as we have already commented). With the wide variety of rights legislation at the European level continuing to expand, the inevitable overlap and possible conflict between the two courts will make the job of national governments and judges across Europe much harder. Collisions such as the one seen over prisoners' voting rights will become increasingly frequent, and it is not just the UK that is coming to this realisation.

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