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European Union: case law

Court of Justice

The Court of Justice interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.

It can also, in certain circumstances, be used by individuals, companies or organisations to take action against an EU institution, if they feel it has somehow infringed their rights.

The Court is divided into 3 bodies:

  1. Court of Justice (1952)
    deals with requests for preliminary rulings from national courts, certain actions for annulment and appeals.
  2. General Court (1988)
    rules on actions for annulment brought by individuals, companies and, in some cases, EU governments. In practice, this means that this court deals mainly with competition law, State aid, trade, agriculture, trade marks.
  3. Civil Service Tribunal (2004)
    rules on disputes between the EU and its staff.1

The Court of Justice is composed of 28 Judges and 11 Advocates General. The Advocates General assist the Court. They are responsible for presenting, with complete impartiality and independence, an ‘opinion' in the cases assigned to them.2