Article 11(3) of the European Convention on Human Rights
An outline of the engagement of British trade unions with the European Court of Human Rights.
This article, originally authored in 2017, John Hendy QC and Professor Keith Ewing, outlines the engagement of British trade unions with the European Court of Human Rights and investigates the suggestion (gaining currency in trade union circles) that, for reasons of political expediency and without legal justification, the Court has, in recent cases, utilised a range of responses to art.11 cases brought by British trade unions to avoid embarrassing the British government by an adverse judgment.
In effect, it is said, there is a secret implied art.11(3), impossible to surmount, which applies only to applications to the Court by British unions. Such a suggestion could not be more serious for the most successful international legal institution in the world, protector of the rights of 800 million citizens of the states comprising the Council of Europe, some 400 million of whom are workers. At a time when capitalism is in crisis, inequality of wealth and income is increasing and governmental policies of austerity profoundly affect relations between workers and employers, the protection by the Court of art.11 trade union rights has particular significance. We find that the suggestion is not “manifestly ill-conceived” and that the Court has a case to answer.