Matthews v. The United Kingdom


A British citizen of Gibraltar, a United Kingdom dependent territory, applied to be a registered voter in the 1994 European Parliament election. The election registration officer in Gibraltar denied the registration, as the legislation in place did not apply to Gibraltar, only the United Kingdom. The citizen, Matthews, claimed this was in violation of the right to vote expressed in article 3 of Protocol No.1 to the Convention.

If the Court had previously rejected such claims, as the European Parliament did not constitute a true legislative body in the sense of article 3 of Protocol No.1 to the European Convention of Human Rights, this was not the case here. After the Maastricht Treaty that had implemented a co-decision procedure, the Court considered the Parliament was, in fact, a true legislative organ, and that the exclusion of voters from Gibraltar was a violation of the Protocol.

But it is also important to note that a lot of Spanish citizens are living in Gibraltar. The absence of registration for people living there would, therefore, impact more than just British citizens’ voting rights. If this matter was solved after the intervention of the Court, this question could become topical again today because of Brexit.