Judicial activism and its role in case-law of international courts

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Author: Ekaterina Diyachenko

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2020-2-103-125

Keywords: characteristics of the EAEU law; judicial activism; judicial self-restraint; protection of human rights; teleological method of interpretation


Judicial activism as a legal phenomenon is one of the topical subjects discussed in the doctrine. While this term found origin in the analysis of the US Supreme Court’s legal findings, it got widespread in the European legal doctrine in assessing the development of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the ECtHR and has become an integral part of the characteristics of international courts. This tendency has not spared the EAEU Court. The present article is devoted to the analysis of judicial activism as a phenomenon from theoretical perspectives and the research of its influence on the establishment of legal positions by international courts. To this aim, the author analyses the existing doctrinal approaches to judicial activism and self-restraint as opposite approaches to the interpretation and application of legal norms. The author concludes that judicial activism as the policy of a judicial body being exercised within the limits of its competence is devoted to overcoming the lacunae in law and is inherent to the nature of the judicial authority. Taking into account the fact that the Court of Justice of the EU is commonly depicted as be the most activist international court its example is used to formulate the preconditions for judicial activism. In the author’s view the causes for the judicial activism of the CJEU lie in the character of the founding treaties, the high guarantees of independence of the judges, the Court’s powers within the framework of the preliminary ruling procedure, the recognition of fundamental rights as general principles of EU law as well as in the priority given by the Court to the teleological method of interpretation, thereby putting the aims of integration first. Given the similarities as to the institutional structure the algorithm used to analyse the activism of the CJEU may be applied to the case law of the EAEU Court. As a result the author comes to the conclusion that despite less favorable preconditions its case law contains examples of judicial activism with regard to the characteristics of EAEU law and the formulation of general principles of law.

About the author: Ekaterina Diyachenko – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Counsellor to a Judge, Eurasian Economic Union Court, Minsk, Belarus.

Citation: Diyachenko E. (2020) Sudebnyy aktivizm i ego rol' v praktike mezhduna­rodnykh sudov [Judicial activism and its role in case-law of international courts]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.2, pp.103–125. (In Russian).


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