Abstract and Concrete Reasonableness Review by the European Court of Human Rights

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In many cases, the ECtHR is clearly asked to examine an individual decision, such as an administrative or court decision, but many other applications concern the reasonableness of interferences caused by national legislation. At present, there appears to be considerable confusion and controversy with the Court’s judges as to whether its review in the second category of cases should be concrete (focussing on the individual case only), abstract (focussing on the legislative system as a whole), or both (or a hybrid). This article presents a systematic and qualitative analysis of the Court’s case law to find out which approaches it takes to the reasonableness review of legislation in which types of cases. Based on the results of the analysis it further endeavours to answer the question of which approach would best fit the Court’s double role of delivering both individual and general justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-247
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Convention on Human Rights Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020


  • judicial review
  • European Court of Human Rights
  • abstract review
  • concrete review
  • individual v general justice
  • review of legislation
  • reasonableness review


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