The British government wants to reform how the European Court of Human Rights operates and the Harry Shindler Expat Voting Rights case is caught up in this conflict.
Britain currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the 47 member-state European Council, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It is using this position, in alliance with Switzerland, to put pressure on the ECHR, which is based in Strasbourg but is not a court of the European Union, to either reform or jeopardise public and political support for the European Convention on Human Rights it oversees.
The British government is already upset by the ECHR ruling that the UK should allow all prisoners to vote and its overturning of some British immigration rulings. Even in the on-going Harry Shindler versus the British government, Expatriate Voting Rights claim in the ECHR, the government has also pointed out to the Court that the Right to Universal Suffrage does not yet form part of the European Electoral heritage (which ironically enough can be traced back to a previous British government negotiation).
Currently the ECHR has a backlog of over 150,000 cases to hear and appealing a case to the Court can delay final judgement by two years or more. Therefore, one option being considered is to put a time limit on cases in order to reduce the number pending appeal, as the longer running ones pass this limit and then expire. This could then open the way for new rules including say a filter system to reduce the number of cases and allow the Court to concentrate instead on more major issues such as Freedom & Torture but not comparatively minor compensation claims, according to Kenneth Clark, the British government Justice Secretary.
Given the above, it seems perverse that the British government is contesting the Harry Shindler Expatriate Voting Rights case in the ECHR, on a major and self-evidently democratic issue such as the Right to Universal Suffrage within the European electoral heritage.