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Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union
The Court of Justice shall amend its Rules of Procedure in order to make them simpler and clearer for litigants and national courts and tribunals. Furthermore, it intends to adapt the structure and content of the Rules of Procedure in order to better take into account the reality of, and changes to, its caseload.
Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of 29 September 2012 [Official Journal L 265 of 29.9.2012].
These Rules of Procedure lay down the provisions required to implement and supplement the Statute of the Court of Justice detailed in Protocol No. 3 annexed to the Treaties.
The Court of Justice is one of the three courts comprising the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judicial institution of the Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The other two courts are the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal. Their mission is to ensure the law is complied with in the interpretation and implementation of the Treaties by monitoring the legality of Union acts.
Organisation of the Court
The Court shall be organised as follows:
- composition of the Court: the Court shall comprise 27 judges and 8 Advocates General, appointed for six years. The tasks of the Advocates General shall be to attend the Court and present legal opinions. The judges shall elect the President of the Court and the Vice-President for a term of three years. The President shall be responsible for representing the Court and managing its work programme; the Vice-President shall assist the President with his duties.
- Constitution of chambers and designation of the Judge-Rapporteurs:The Court shall set up Chambers of five Judges, the President of which shall be elected for three years, and Chambers of three judges, the President of which shall be elected for one year. The President of the Court shall designate a Judge-Rapporteur to deal with a case, while an Advocate General shall be designated by the First Advocate General. If necessary, the Court may appoint Assistant Rapporteurs.
- role of the Registrar:The Court shall appoint a Registrar for a term of six years. The Registrar shall be responsible for the acceptance, transmission and custody of all documents, and shall be responsible for the records. In addition, the Registrar shall assist the Members of the Court and shall be in charge of the publications of the Court. Lastly, he shall direct the services of the Court under the authority of the President of the Court.
- working of the Court:Cases shall be assigned to the full Court, the Grand Chamber or to a Chamber of five or three judges. Several cases may be heard and determined together by one and the same formation of the Court. The deliberations of the Court shall remain secret.
- languages:a language shall be assigned for each case. In direct actions, the applicant may choose the language from the twenty-three official European Union languages. In preliminary ruling proceedings, the language of the case shall be that of the national court or tribunal.
Characteristics of proceedings
In general, proceedings before the Court shall comprise 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 shall be presented by the Judge-Rapporteur to the general meeting of the Court.
- measures of inquiry: The Court can determine the 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. Minutes of every inquiry hearing shall be drawn up.
- Oral proceedings shall take place, if necessary, after the inquiry. Oral proceedings shall thus be opened and directed by the President. Oral proceedings may take place in camera.
- Opinion of the Advocate General:at the end of these proceedings, the Advocate General shall deliver his Opinion.
- the final decision:the Court shall decide by judgment or by order. Only the judgment shall be 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 shall then be distributed to each of the parties.
Furthermore, the Rules shall contain specific provisions concerning the different procedures before the Court: preliminary ruling procedure, direct actions, appeals against decisions of the General Court, opinions, and other particular forms of procedure.
References for a preliminary hearing
National courts may submit a reference for a preliminary hearing before the General Court in order to question the interpretation of European Union law. As part of a reference for a preliminary hearing, observations may be made by, in particular:
- the parties to the main proceedings;
- the Member States;
- 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 Registry containing, in particular, the pleas in law and legal arguments relied on. The application must seek to have the decision set aside, in whole or in part.
Review of decisions of the General Court
In two instances, specifically when it ruled in an appeal against a decision by the Civil Service Tribunal, the decisions of the General Court can be subject to a review by the Court. A Chamber of five Judges shall be designated for a period of one year to carry out the reviews.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice
OJ L 265 of 29.9.2012 and
OJ C 337 of 6.11.2012