This essay moves from the consideration that the European system of protection of human rights is based on the case law of the two European Courts (i.e. the ECHR and the EHCJ). It starts from an analysis of some contextual aspects which are often neglected, but that appear to be essential to understand this phenomenon, such as the recruitment of European judges, the style of judgments, the existence and the operation of a rule of precedent. It focuses, then, on the relationships between the two Courts, especially after the adhesion of EU to the European Convention on Human Rights by the Treaty of Lisbon, which recognises «the same legal value as the Treaties» to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union approved in Nice (art. 6 TEU). The author concludes with some critical remarks about the approach of Italian courts to the case law of the two Courts.