European Courts

The European Court of justice (ECJ) Note : It has no jurisdiction in the UK following Brexit

Based in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice is the highest court of the EU legal system. It has a number of roles:

It settles legal disputes between EU member states.

· It settles disputes between the European Commission and a member state.

It interprets the meaning of EU law and decides how it should be applied in specific cases and to individual countries.

· It hears appeals from individuals and groups who feel that their economic or social rights under EU law may have been abused within their own country. The judgements of the European Court of Justice are binding on all EU member states.

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights sits in Strasbourg (France) and hears appeals from citizens from all parts of Europe. It bases its decisions on the ECHR, to which most European countries are signatories. Note that this court is not part of the EU.

Votes for prisoners, 2005

The court ruled that the UK's denial of prisoners' right to vote was an abuse of their rights. In 2011, Parliament voted to ignore this ruling

DNA retention, 2008

The court ruled that it was against the ECHR right to privacy to retain the DNA profile of persons who have not been convicted of a crime. The UK government was forced to destroy many DNA profiles

Stop and search powers, 2010

The court ruled that it was an abuse of rights for the police to stop and search without any cause those attending demonstrations, These powers are now under review