Preliminary ruling proceedings — recommendations to national courts

 

SUMMARY OF:

Recommendations to national courts on the use of the preliminary ruling procedure

Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS AND OF ARTICLE 267 OF THE TFEU?

These recommendations explain to courts and tribunals in EU countries the purposes of a procedure which entitles them, under Article 267 of the TFEU to refer to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling. This procedure is used in cases where the interpretation or validity of an EU law is in question, and:

The recommendations also detail the scope of the procedure and the form in which national courts should submit their referral.

They supplement Articles 93 to 118 of the CJEU’s Rules of Procedure.

KEY POINTS

Significance of the preliminary ruling procedure

This procedure is considered useful when, in a case before a national court, a question of interpretation which is new and of general interest for the uniform application of EU law is raised, or where the existing case-law does not appear to give the necessary guidance to deal with a new legal situation.

Structure of the recommendations

A set of recommendations applies to all requests for a preliminary ruling and a further set specifically applies to expedited procedures* or urgent procedures*.

Who makes the request for a preliminary ruling?

The national court or tribunal before which a dispute is brought takes sole responsibility for determining both the need for a request for a preliminary ruling and the relevance of the questions it submits to the CJEU.

Courts submitting a referral should, among other things:

Subject matter and scope

Timing of referral and the staying of national proceedings

Form and content of the referral

Costs and legal aid

Preliminary ruling proceedings before the CJEU are free of charge. The referring court rules on the costs incurred by the parties, where necessary.

Role of the CJEU registry

Expedited and urgent referrals

FROM WHEN DO THE RECOMMENDATIONS APPLY?

They replace previous recommendations issued in 2012 and apply as of 25 November 2016.

KEY TERMS

Expedited procedure: a procedure where the nature of the case and exceptional circumstances require it to be handled quickly.
Urgent procedure: a procedure applying only in cases involving questions relating to freedom, security and justice. In particular, it limits the number of parties authorised to submit written observations and allows, in cases of extreme urgency, for the written stage of the procedure to be omitted before the CJEU.

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Recommendations to national courts and tribunals in relation to the initiation of preliminary ruling proceedings (OJ C 439, 25.11.2016, pp. 1-8)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 1 — The institutions — Section 5 — The Court of Justice of the European Union — Article 267 (ex-Article 234 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 164)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Title III — Provisions on the institutions — Article 19 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 27)

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)

last update 31.10.2017