European Court of Human Rights - case of Tinnelly & Sons Ltd and Others and McElduff and Others v. the United Kingdom (1998) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Tinnelly & Sons Ltd and Others and McElduff and Others v. the United Kingdom (1998) (excerpts)

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72.  The Court recalls that Article 6 § 1 embodies the “right to a court”, of which the right of access, that is, the right to institute proceedings before a court in civil matters, constitutes one aspect.

However, this right is not absolute, but may be subject to limitations; these are permitted by implication since the right of access by its very nature calls for regulation by the State. In this respect, the Contracting States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation, although the final decision as to the observance of the Convention's requirements rests with the Court. It must be satisfied that the limitations applied do not restrict or reduce the access left to the individual in such a way or to such an extent that the very essence of the right is impaired. Furthermore, a limitation will not be compatible with Article 6 § 1 if it does not pursue a legitimate aim and if there is not a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be achieved (see, among other authorities, the Stubbings and Others v. the United Kingdom judgment of 22 October 1996, Reports 1996-IV, p. 1502, § 50).