Sir Nicolas Bratza elected President of European Court of Human Rights

His father Milan Bratza was famed Serbian concert violinist

6th July 2011: Migrants in the UK have another reason to cheer. The son of a famed Serbian concert violinist, who settled in London after the First World War, has made it big.



The only UK judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza, has been elected as its new President. His presidency’s beginning coincides with the UK’s six-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe, beginning November 2011.

After being elected in a secret ballot by the court’s 47 judges, Bratza will succeeds Frenchman John Paul Costa on 4 November 2011, He has been elected for three years and is expected to use the opportunity for the betterment of relations with the UK government.

The UK Human Rights Blog says the relations have been strained after the Council’s warning, making it clear to the UK to comply with a 2005 ruling against the UK’s arbitrary ban on prisoners’ voting.

The Prime Minister had in November last asserted that very idea of giving prisoners the vote made him feel “physically ill“. The deadline for UK compliance is 11 October 2011.

Sir Nicolas was born on 3 March 1945 and educated at Wimbledon College, a state-maintained Jesuit school for boys.

His father was Milan Bratza, the famed Serbian concert violinist, and  mother came from the Russell family, who have produced three generations of Law Lords — Charles Russell, Frank Russell and Charles Ritchie Russell.

He studied Law at Brasenose College, Oxford, and was awarded a first class degree. He then spent two years teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School before being called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1969, where he was a Hardwicke and Droop Scholar. He was appointed a Bencher of the Inn in 1993.

Bratza was appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown at Common Law in 1979 and took silk as Queen’s Counsel in 1988. In 1993, he was appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court and elected a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn.

In the same year, he was appointed as the UK Member of the European Commission of Human Rights, part of the European Convention on Human Rights system of the Council of Europe.

In 1998, the Commission was abolished and replaced by a permanent European Court of Human Rights, and Bratza was elected as the Judge of this Court representing the United Kingdom.

The eligibility criteria for appointment, however, required that Bratza hold judicial office in his home territory, and for this reason he was appointed a High Court judge. This afforded him the title, The Hon. Mr. Justice Bratza, although at the European Court he is referred to simply as Sir Nicolas Bratza.

In the same year, and again in 2001, he was elected as one of the five Section Presidents of the Court. He was elected to a second and final term as a judge of the Court and re-elected as a Section President in 2004, and has been a Vice-President of the Court since 19 January 2007.

His second term of office on the Court will expire on 31 October 2012.

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