Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union
Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THESE RULES OF PROCEDURE?
They lay down the rules that implement and supplement the statute of the Court of Justice detailed in Protocol No 3 annexed to the treaties.
They aim to make the Court’s procedures simpler and clearer for litigants and national courts and tribunals, as well as to better take into account changes in the Court’s caseload.
The Court of Justice is one of 2 courts comprising the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judicial institution of the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. The second court is the General Court. Their mission is to ensure the law is complied with in the interpretation and implementation of the treaties by monitoring the legality of EU acts.
Organisation of the Court
The Court is organised as follows.
Composition: it comprises 28 judges and 11 advocates general, appointed for 6 years. The tasks of the advocates general are to attend the Court and present legal opinions. The judges elect the President of the Court and the vice-president for a term of 3 years. The president is responsible for representing the Court and managing its work programme and is assisted by the vice-president.
Constitution of chambers and designation of the judge-rapporteurs: the Court sets up chambers of five judges, the president of which is elected for 3 years, and chambers of three judges, the president of which is elected for 1 year. The President of the Court designates a judge-rapporteur to deal with a case, while an advocate general is designated by the first advocate general. If necessary, the Court may appoint assistant rapporteurs.
Role of the Registrar: the Court appoints a registrar for a term of 6 years. The Registrar is responsible for the acceptance, transmission and custody of all documents, and for the records. In addition, the Registrar assists the Members of the Court and is in charge of the Court’s publications. Lastly, the Registrar directs the services of the Court under the authority of the President of the Court.
Working of the Court: cases are assigned to the full Court, the Grand Chamber or to a chamber of 5 or 3 judges. The number of judges dealing with a case depends on its importance and complexity. Most cases are dealt with by 5 judges, and it is very rare for the whole Court to hear the case. Several cases may be heard and determined together by the same formation of the Court. The deliberations of the Court must remain secret.
Languages: a language is assigned for each case. In direct actions, the applicant may choose the language from the 24 official EU languages. In preliminary ruling proceedings, the language of the case is that of the national court or tribunal.
Characteristics of proceedings
In general, proceedings before the Court comprises the following phases.
Written proceedings: this involves an exchange of pleadings between the parties. The pleadings must have clearly defined content. Once the procedure is closed, a preliminary report is presented by the judge-rapporteur to the general meeting of the Court.
Measures of inquiry: the Court may decide to hold measures of inquiry such as the personal appearance of the parties, requests for information and documents, oral testimony, the commissioning of an expert’s report and an inspection of the place or thing in question.
A hearing may take place, if necessary. The hearing is opened and directed by the president. The hearing may take place in private (in camera).
Opinion of the advocate general: in approximately half of all cases the advocate general delivers an opinion. If the case raises no new points of law the Court may decide that an opinion is not necessary.
The final decision: the Court decides by judgment or by order. Only the judgment is delivered in open court. Judgments and orders contain different information, such as a summary of the facts and the grounds for the decision. A copy is then distributed to each of the parties. Judgments and orders are available on the Court’s website.
The rules also contain specific provisions concerning the different procedures before the Court:
preliminary ruling procedure;
appeals against decisions of the General Court;
other particular forms of procedure.
References for a preliminary hearing
National courts may submit a reference for a preliminary hearing before the Court in order to question the interpretation of EU law. As part of a reference for a preliminary hearing, observations may be made by, in particular:
the parties to the main proceedings;
the EU countries;
the European Commission;
the institution which adopted the act, the validity or interpretation of which is in dispute.
Appeals against decisions by the General Court
It is possible to bring an appeal against a decision by the General Court. In this case, an application must be lodged with the Registrar containing, in particular, the supporting pleadings and legal arguments. The application must seek to have the decision set aside, in whole or in part.
FROM WHEN DO THE RULES OF PROCEDURE APPLY?
They have applied since 1 November 2012.
For more information, see:
Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice (OJ L 265, 29.9.2012, pp. 1-42)
Amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice (OJ L 173, 26.6.2013, p. 65)
Council Regulation (EU) 2016/300 of 29 February 2016 determining the emoluments of EU high-level public office holders (OJ L 58, 4.3.2016, pp. 1-12)
Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/2422 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union (OJ L 341, 24.12.2015, pp. 14-17)
last update 11.08.2016