Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut obviously is a disproportionate action, since one could use a nutcracker instead. Verifying whether there exists a less restrictive means (LRM) for a human rights restriction is a central question of proportionality analysis. This article provides both a theoretical discussion of the LRM test as developed within the German legal tradition, and an exhaustive analysis of the European Court of Human Rights’ practice in applying LRM reasoning. In two recent Grand Chamber judgments, the Court has explicitly endorsed the LRM test as part of its proportionality analysis. Nonetheless, it appears that the Court has not fully made up its mind on the application of the LRM test, which is illustrated by the lack of consistency in applying LRM reasoning, the lack of clarity regarding the substantive or procedural nature of the test and the struggle in applying the test to scrutinise general measures.

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