Thursday, 19 April 2012

Abu Qatada's time limit to appeal.

On January 17, 2012 the European Court of Human Rights passed judgement on the case of Abu Qatada. The 'radical' preacher had 3 months to appeal, and ask for his case to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Home Office argues that the deadline for an appeal to be lodged was midnight Monday 16 April, 2012. However,  Abu Qatada's legal team say that the deadline was midnight Tuesday 17 April 2012.

But who is right?

The first thing you need to do is forget the English and Welsh legal definition of time-limits in this case. This says that a calendar month is A period from a specified day in one month to the day numerically corresponding to that day in the following month, less one. (Source:

Instead you need to look at the European Convention on the Calculation of Time-Limits and accompanying Explanatory Report.

Things to note are:

Article 1 states The rules for calculation of the time-limit are mandatory in the case of time-limits established by law or by a judicial or administrative authority. (see Paragraph 16 - Explanatory Report.) So contrary to some reports it seems that the ECHR has no discretion in deciding whether the time limit had passed.

Article 3 states that the time-limit starts at midnight of the day that the time limit starts. Therefore the start of the 3 month appeal period was midnight 17 January 2012. ( See Paragraph 21 - Explanatory Report.)

In Article 4 you will find the definition of a month (see Paragraph 27 - Explanatory Report.)

Examples given in the explanatory report are:

A time-limit of one month:

- starting on 5 January, expires on 5 February; starting on 30 April, expires on 30 May (not on the last day of May);

- starting on either 30 May or 31 May, expires on 30 June; - starting on 31 January expires on 28 or 29 February depending on whether it is a leap year or not.

Therefore it seems; if my understanding of the European Convention on the Calculation of Time-Limits is correct (and I'm no lawyer), the time-limit of three months started on midnight 17 January 2012 till midnight 17 April 2012.

See Also: BBC News - Abu Qatada appeal: May stands by deadline.

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