International Commission of Jurists: Amicus Curiae

The issue

In her fight for gender recognition, Dr. Lydia Foy instituted three separate proceedings before the Irish courts, the last (Foy No. 3) being to require the State to act on the High Court’s decision in Foy v  An t-Ard Chlaraitheoir & ors [2007] IEHC 470 which found the Irish Government in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) sought to intervene as amicus curiae in Foy No. 3 as part of its remit to ensure that international law – especially human rights and humanitarian law – is utilised effectively for protection, particularly for the most vulnerable, and is implemented through effective national and international procedures. The ICJ hoped to assist the High Court in the determination of certain points of law relating to the right to an effective national remedy under Article 13 of the ECHR.

What PILA did

PILA obtained pro bono legal assistance in bringing together the amicus curiae intervention from KOD Lyon’s Elizabeth Mitrow and Grainne Gilmore BL.

The result

The ICJ was successful in the amicus intervention; one of the first occasions an international NGO has been admitted as amicus in Ireland.  The ICJ’s submissions addressed, among other things, the requirement that a domestic remedy be effective in law and practice. Namely, that a remedy must be accessible and enable the enforcement of the substance of the rights at stake; and that the national authority before which recourse is had must be capable of granting an appropriate relief, and offer reasonable prospects of success.

Ultimately Foy No. 3 was settled following the publication and introduction of Draft Heads of Bill in the Oireachtas, and the commencement of parliamentary debate on the Gender Recognition Bill. The intervention, however, showed the importance of the case to the rights of transgender people, as well as to the effectiveness of the Irish ECHR Act 2003. The decision also clarified the criteria to be met by other bodies seeking to intervene as amicus curiae in other cases.

Sustaining Partners