The Court of Justice in Luxembourg

The European Court in Luxembourg

Updated on Wednesday 28th September 2016

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The European Court of Justice was enabled in 1952 and is comprised of:

  • -       a court of justice;
  • -       a general court;
  • -       a civil service tribunal.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ensures the application of the law in EU member states. The European Court of Justice reviews the legality of acts of the institutions of the European Union, ensures compliance of the Member States with the obligations under treaties and interprets EU law at the request of national courts. Individuals and companies may also take actions against EU institutions through the European Court of Justice.

Our lawyers in Luxembourg can offer more information on the cases tried by the European Court of Justice.


The Court of Justice is composed of twenty-seven judges and eight General Advocates. Judges and Advocates General are nominated through a common agreement of the governments of the Member States, after consultation with a committee which makes recommendations on whether the candidates are suitable for the positions. The judges and advocates are appointed for six years and can be reelected. They must also possess the qualifications required for appointment in their respective countries or have recognized competence.

The judges of the Court of Justice appoints a President and a Vice President for period of 3 years. The President will rule over the Court and will preside the hearings and consultations. The Vice-President helps the President and replaces him when necessary.

 The General Advocates assist the Court. They must offer completely impartial and independent legal opinions.

The EU Justice Court may meet in plenary sessions or as a Grand Chamber.

Competences of the EU Justice Court

The European Court of Justice has various forms of procedure:

  • -        the preliminary ruling;
  • -       the infringement proceedings;
  • -       the application for annulment;
  • -       the action for failure;
  • -        the appeal;
  • -       the review.

The Court of Justice works with all EU countries’ courts. To ensure the application of EU directives and to prevent interpretations, national courts can turn to the Court of Justice to seek a clarification of a point of interpretation of the EU’s provisions. The Court of Justice responds only to judgments or reasoned order.

The infringement procedures allow the Court to monitor compliance of the Member States to the obligations under the EU directives. Once referred to the Court of Justice, the action is preceded by a preliminary procedure initiated by the Commission which gives the opportunity to the concerned Member State to respond to complaints sent to them. If this procedure does not cause the Member State to put an end to the breach, an action for infringement of the EU law may be brought before the Court of Justice. This action may be brought before the European Court of Justice by the Commission or by a EU country. If the Court finds a violation, the State is obligated to terminate the action immediately. If after a new referral made by the Commission, the Court of Justice finds that the concerned Member State has not respected the ruling it may enforce a lump sum payment and / or a fine. However, in case of not complying with the directive of the Commission, a penalty may be imposed by the Court to the involved Member State from the first stage of infringement ruling.

The application for annulment can be initiated by a member state seeking the annulment of an act of an of a EU organization. The Court of Justice can start trials against the European Parliament and / or against the Council or against other EU institutions. The Court has jurisdiction in the first instance, all other cases of this kind and, in particular, actions brought by individuals.

The action for failure allows finding the use of the lawfulness actions of the institutions of the Union. Where negligence is found, it is for the institution concerned to take measures against it.

The Court may deal with appeals on points of law against judgments and orders of the Tribunal of Justice. If the appeal is admissible and well founded, the Court overrules the judgement of the Tribunal. If the case is ready for trial, the Court may itself decide the dispute. Otherwise, it returns the matter to the Tribunal which is bound by the decision of the Court in the appeal.

Our attorneys in Luxembourg can offer more information on the procedures of the Court.

Trials in the EU Court of Justice

Regardless of the nature of the case, a trial includes a written phase and, where appropriate, an oral phase, which is public. Once the written procedure closed, the parties may indicate, within a period of three weeks why they want to hold a hearing argument. When it is decided to hold a hearing, the case is argued at a public hearing before the bench and the General Advocate. The judges and the General Advocate may ask the parties questions they deem appropriate. A few weeks later, the General Advocate appears before the Court of Justice in open court. It analyzes in detail the legal aspects of the case and in particular offers independently to the Court of Justice the answer he considers should be brought to the problem.

The judges deliberate on the basis of a draft judgment prepared by the Reporting Judge. Each judge of the bench concerned may propose amendments. The decisions of the Court are taken by a majority. Judgments must be signed by all the judges who participated and their device is delivered in open court.

For complete information on the European Court of Justice, please contact our law firm in Luxembourg.