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European Union: Case law

A guide to researching the law of the EU

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 - 1 sept. 2016)
    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

 


  1. http://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/institutions-bodies/court-justice_en
  2. curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/Jo2_7024/

Publications

European Court Reports

Case law of the Court of Justice and the General Court is published in the Reports of cases before the Court (of Justice and the Court of First Instance) (ECR). These so called European Court Reports can be found in the European Documentation Centre from 1988 - 2008 (incomplete) - Shelf mark: EDC-ts.

Case law of the Civil Service Tribunal is published in European court reports. Reports of European Community Staff Cases (ECR-SC). This publication can also be found in the European Documentation Centre from 1994 -2005 (incomplete) - Shelf mark: EDC-ts.


Several journals pay attention to the case law of the European Union, for example:

• Common market law reports: 1969 - 1987 Shelf-mark: ts
• Common market law reports: 1962 - ... Westlaw UK
• Entertainment And Media Law Reports: 1993 - ...  Westlaw UK
• Environmental Law Reports: 1993 - ... Westlaw UK
• European commercial cases: 1978 - ... Westlaw UK
• European human rights reports: 1979 - ... Westlaw UK
• European Patent Office Reports: 1986 - ... Westlaw UK
• European Trade Mark Reports: 1996 - ... Westlaw UK
• Fleet Street reports: 1966 - ... Westlaw UK
• International Litigation Procedure: 1990 - ... Westlaw UK
• Reports of Patent Cases: 1977 - ... Westlaw UK

Databases

The case law since 17/06/1997 is accessible in all EU official languages via the court's website. Its database includes the full text of judgments, opinions of the Court, Advocate General's opinions and orders of the EU courts. Furthermore, the database contains summaries of decisions, information on decisions which have not been published in the court reports and notices in the Official Journal of the European Union.

You can search the database by case number, date, name of the parties, reference words in the text, etc.1

 


  1. e-justice.europa.eu/content_eu_case_law-12-en.do

Below you see the homepage with a quick search form.

On the left side is a menu. Here you find:

  • Search form with multiple criteria to limit your search
  • Access to the case-law by case number (numerical access)
  • Digest of case-law, a systematic collection of the summaries of judgments and orders of the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal delivered or made since they commenced their activities
  • The alphabetical table of subject-matter lists the legal questions dealt with in the decisions of the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal and in the Opinions of the Advocates General, presented in alphabetical order (available only in French)
  • Annotation of judgments: This section contains references to ‘notes de doctrine’ – annotations by legal commentators relating to the judgments delivered by the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal since those courts were first established. Please note that although this work is available in French only, references appear in their original language.

Use the  CURIA geavanceerd zoeken  button if you want to perform an advanced search.

  • the  CURIA help button provides you with help on the criterion concerned
  • the CURIA suggesties button shows more search options
  • Use the menu List of results on the left side to choose display options and sorting options different from those offered by default.

 

Tip

In the List of results you can use the CURIA coördinaten van de zaak button to find case information like citations of case-law or legislation, dates, references - for instance notes on academic writings- and procedural analysis information.

EUR-Lex is the legal database of the European Union. It provides amongst others free access to EU case-law (judgements, orders, etc.).

Below you see the webpage in EUR-Lex where you can find and consult case law from the EU Court of Justice.

Use Search in EU case law to perform an advanced search.

Use the Directory of European Union case law to browse systematically through the collection of judgments and orders of the Court of Justice, General Court and Civil Service Tribunal.

 

Tip
Once you've found the document or legislative procedure you wish to consult, you can use the Document information tab to find notes relating to the decision.

JURE, a database created by the European Commission, contains case law on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters and on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in a State other than the one where the judgment was passed.

The JURE collection contains relevant judgments delivered by courts in contracting states (EU Member States and if applicable Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and the EU Court of Justice under the following:

The judgments are available in their original language only.

There is also a summary of each judgment in English, French and German (and in the original language, if the country in question provides one).

Below you see the JURE search form (in EUR-Lex) with multiple criteria to limit your search.

JURIFAST is the database of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Councils of State or the Supreme administrative jurisdictions of each of the members of the European Union (ACA Europe). This database contains the references and the full text:

  • of the "preliminary files" with :
    • the preliminary question submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Union
    • the Court's answer to this question
    • the national decision(s) following this answer
  • of other national decisions on the interpretation of European Union law (decisions without reference)

Below you see the homepage with a search form on the right sight.

 

For each decision, the database contains:

  • the date and a short description of the subject;
  • the full text of the ruling or judgement;
  • a summary in French and English;
  • a link to the relevant provisions of European law.

In the case of preliminary questions, additional information is added in due course, namely:

  • a link to the ECJ's response;
  • the decision resulting from this response.