Fact-finding Missions: The Strasbourg Experience
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This article gives consideration to an important research project from the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute at London Metropolitan University on fact-finding missions within the Strasbourg system. In the vast majority of cases brought before it the ECtHR is able to reach a judgment on the basis of decisions made and documents created in the course of prior domestic proceedings. However, where fundamental facts remain in dispute between the parties, the ECtHR has, in the past, conducted fact-finding missions. The basis upon which such fact-finding missions are conducted is to be found in Art. 38 (1) ECHR which provides simply that the Court may," if need be, undertake an investigation". However, in 2003, the ECtHR introduced an annex to its Rules of Court which deals specifically and in some detail with the conduct of such investigations.