Filing an action before the Court of Justice of the European Union

Since its creation in 1952, the mission of the Court of Justice of the European Union is to ensure “compliance with the law in the interpretation and application” of the Treaties.

In order to fulfill this mission, the Court of Justice of the European Union:

  • Reviews the legality of acts of the institutions of the European Union;
  • Ensure that the Member States meet their obligations arising from the Treaties and
  • Construes EU law at the request of the national courts

Thus, the Court of Justice of the European Union is the judicial authority of the European Union and, in cooperation with the courts of the Member States, ensures uniform application and interpretation of Union law.

The Court of Justice of the European Union, with headquarters in Luxembourg, is composed of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court (created in 1988) and the Civil Service Tribunal (created in 2004). Since their creation, about 28 000 rulings have been pronounced by the three courts.

More information on the role of the Court, together with the procedure to be followed for an action to be considered admissible and resolved by the European court is available on the official website of the CJEU (http://curia.europa.eu), thus being readily available to every interested European citizen.

What we desire to present in this Article is the information gained from practice and direct contact with the representatives of the CJEU.

Since Romania’s accession to the European Union, Romanian citizens have access to the European court, but not all took advantage of the chance that they have been given. The reasons for this reticence are generally financial related, while also many fearing a too complicated and too long procedure.

The reality is actually very different, as the CJEU has taken all measures necessary to ensure that all EU citizens have a free access to this court.

The CJEU website includes texts regarding the procedure to be followed in order to assure a successful result the desired action (Treaty extracts, the Statute of the Courts, the rules of procedure, recommendations for national courts, etc.), Decisions of the Court of Justice and other useful information (ex .: guidance for oral proceedings, legal aid application form etc.).

In case of filing an action an initial “discussion” shall be carried out with the Court Registry, which will verify the prior admissibility of the action. Your request will be received by a clerk of the Court, as the clerks are responsible for maintaining the Cases Register of the European court and the pending cases, handling the transmission of communications and the custody of documents, maintaining correspondence with Parties and third parties regarding pending cases.

If your application does not comply with the rules of procedure, the Court Registry will send a concrete list of the breached provisions as well as notify the period awarded for the purpose of correcting any irregularities.

In order to speed up the procedure as much as possible and to ensure that the corrections are made properly and complete, you can contact the clerk in charge of your case by telephone. This way, the clerk will be able to provide additional information and can advise you regarding irregularities corrections.

Another aspect that can help you in terms of shortening the preliminary proceedings is the correct choice of the language of proceedings.

According to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice, the procedure languages are Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Dutch, Hungarian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.

According to art. 37 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice, the language of the procedure is chosen by the applicant, except when:

(a) where the defendant is a Member State, the language of the case shall be the official language of that State; where that State has more than one official language, the applicant may choose between them;

(b) at the joint request of the parties, the use of another of the languages mentioned in Article 36 for all or part of the proceedings may be authorized;

(c) at the request of one of the parties, and after the opposite party and the Advocate General have been heard, the use of another of the languages mentioned in Article 36 may be authorized as the language of the case for all or part of the proceedings by way of derogation from subparagraphs (a) and (b); such a request may not be submitted by one of the institutions of the European Union.

If the language chosen by the applicant cannot be accepted, the already filed documents have to be translated, aspect that may delay the procedure.

Once the action is considered admissible, the application will be assigned to a Chamber of the Court and, depending on the nature of the action, the procedures for the communication of documents between the parties through the court shall commence.

Regarding the procedure for communicating between the Parties and the Court, the most appropriate method is the electronic system e-Curia.

E-Curia is a software application that allows submission and communication of procedural acts electronically, as well as consulting them. Access to e-Curia is free.

E-Curia is common to the three courts composing the Court of Justice of the European Union. Opening an access account by the Registry of one of these courts is also valid for the other two court Registries.

Without prejudice to compliance with the provisions of Article 19 of the Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union and provisions on the admissibility of actions, agents and lawyers entitled to practice before a court of a Member State or of another State Party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area can request the opening of an account that grants access to all e-Curia functionalities. After opening this account, they may use e-Curia in all cases they are appointed as representatives.

E-Curia allows representatives to conduct judicial documents deposition (accompanied by any addendums) electronically, without having to confirm this deposit through a postal service. Basically, the filing of judicial document by e-Curia assumes that the representative will make subsequent deposits in the same cause in the same way. However, filing a procedural document by e-Curia in a case does not prevent the subsequent filing of a document or material evidence in the same case by using another method of transmission stipulated by the applicable procedural rules, if the nature of the document or evidence requires it.

The request for applying for an account must be accompanied by a copy of the identity card or passport of the representative and a copy of a legitimation document (document certifying its ability to represent an institution or a Member State or to plead before a court of a Member State or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area).

The Court of Justice of the European Union has thus tried to become more accessible to litigants, eliminating postage fees and the time needed for the transmission of documents through traditional ways.

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