General Court (European Union)
The General Court, informally known as the European General Court (EGC), is a constituent court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It hears actions taken against the institutions of the European Union by individuals and member states, although certain matters are reserved for the European Court of Justice. Decisions of the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice, but only on a point of law. Prior to the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance.
|Court of Justice of the European Union|
|Jurisdiction||European Union and Northern Ireland|
|Location||Kirchberg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg|
|Authorized by||Treaties of the European Union|
|Appeals to||European Court of Justice|
|Number of positions||54 judges (2 per member state)|
|Currently||Marc van der Woude|
|Since||27 September 2019|
|Since||27 September 2019|
|Since||6 October 2005|
|European Union portal|
The General Court hears disputes (such as those by persons who have been refused a trade mark by EUIPO, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry).
The creation of the General Court instituted a judicial system based on two levels of jurisdiction: all cases heard at first instance by the General Court may be subject to a right of appeal to the Court of Justice on points of law only.
In view of the increasing number of cases brought before the General Court in the last five years, to relieve it of some of the caseload, the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003, provides for the creation of 'judicial panels' in certain specific areas.
On 2 November 2004 the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. This new specialised tribunal, composed of seven judges, heard and determined at first instance disputes involving the European Civil Service. Its decisions were subject to a right of appeal before the General Court on points of law only. Decisions given by the General Court in this area might exceptionally be subject to review by the Court of Justice. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal was duly constituted into law on 2 December 2005. Despite the success in its mandate, it was dissolved on 1 September 2016, leading to the doubling of the number of judges at the General Court.
Since February 2020 the General Court is composed of 54 Judges; this follows a 2016 reform which increased the number of judges to two per member state by 2019, and the departure of the UK from the EU at the end of January 2020. The Judges are appointed for a renewable term of six years by common accord of the governments of the Member States. As of February 2020[update], there are 49 Judges in post: 23 member states have nominated both their judges, whilst Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia have nominated just one, and Slovenia has nominated neither.
The members of the General Court elect their president and the presidents of the Chambers of five Judges from among their number for a renewable period of three years.
There are no permanent Advocates General attached to the General Court (unlike the European Court of Justice, which has eleven Advocates General). However, the task of an Advocate General may be performed in a limited number of cases by a Judge nominated to do so. In practice this has been done occasionally.
List of presidents
|25 September 1989||18 September 1995||José Luís da Cruz Vilaça|
|18 September 1995||4 March 1998||Antonio Saggio|
|4 March 1998||17 September 2007||Bo Vesterdorf|
|17 September 2007||26 September 2019||Marc Jaeger|
|27 September 2019||Incumbent||Marc van der Woude|
List of vice-presidents
|17 September 2013||19 September 2016||Heikki Kanninen|
|20 September 2016||26 September 2019||Marc van der Woude|
|27 September 2019||Incumbent||Savvas Papasavvas|
List of judges
|Name||Country||Elected||Current term ends||Other|
|Geert De Baere||Belgium||2017||2022|
|Alexander Kornezov||Bulgaria||2016||2025||President of the Tenth Chamber|
|Vesna Tomljenović||Croatia||2013||2025||President of the Second Chamber|
|Savvas Papasavvas||Cyprus||2004||2022||Vice-President of the General Court (2019-2022)|
|Anna Marcoulli||Cyprus||2016||2022||President of the Sixth Chamber|
|Petra Škvařilová-Pelzl||Czech Republic||2019||2025|
|David Petrlík||Czech Republic||2021||2025|
|Sten Frimodt Nielsen||Denmark||2007||2022|
|Jesper Svenningsen||Denmark||2016||2022||President of the Eighth Chamber|
|Heikki Kanninen||Finland||2009||2022||President of the First Chamber|
Vice-President of the General Court (2013-2016)
|Stéphane Gervasoni||France||2013||2025||President of the Fourth Chamber|
|Laurent Truchot||France||2019||2025||Judge (2007-2013)|
|Anthony Michael Collins||Ireland||2013||2025||President of the Third Chamber|
|Colm Mac Eochaidh||Ireland||2017||2025|
|Marc Jaeger||Luxembourg||1996||2022||President of the General Court (2007-2019)|
|Dean Spielmann||Luxembourg||2016||2022||President of the Fifth Chamber|
|Marc van der Woude||Netherlands||2010||2022||President of the General Court (2019-2022)|
Vice-President of the General Court (2016-2019)
|Ricardo Da Silva Passos||Portugal||2016||2022||President of the Seventh Chamber|
|Maria José Costeira||Portugal||2016||2022||President of the Ninth Chamber|
|José Martín y Pérez de Nanclares||Spain||2019||2025|
|Miguel Sampol Pucurull||Spain||2019||2025|
|Ulf Christophe Öberg||Sweden||2016||2025|
* Judge continues to hold the office until their successor takes up the duties according to the Article 5(3) of the Protocol No. 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the EU
List of former judges
|Josef Azizi||Austria||19 January 1995||16 September 2013|
|Koen Lenaerts||Belgium||25 September 1989||6 October 2003|
|Franklin Dehousse||Belgium||6 October 2003||19 September 2016|
|Teodor Tchipev||Bulgaria||12 January 2007||29 June 2010|
|Irena Pelikánová||Czech Republic||12 May 2004||26 September 2019|
|Jan M. Passer||Czech Republic||19 September 2016||6 October 2020|
|Bo Versterdorf||Denmark||25 September 1989||17 September 2007|
|Küllike Jürimäe||Estonia||12 May 2004||23 October 2013|
|Virpi Tiili||Finland||8 January 1995||6 October 2009|
|Jacques Biancarelli||France||25 September 1989||18 September 1995|
|André Potocki||France||18 September 1995||19 September 2001|
|Hubert Legal||France||19 September 2001||17 September 2007|
|Heinrich Kirschner||Germany||25 September 1989||6 February 1997|
|Jörg Pirrung||Germany||11 June 1997||17 September 2007|
|Alfred Dittrich||Germany||17 September 2007||26 September 2019|
|Christos G. Yeraris||Greece||25 September 1989||18 September 1992|
|Andreas Kalogerpoulos||Greece||18 September 1992||17 September 1998|
|Michail Vilaras||Greece||17 September 1998||25 October 2010|
|Ottó Czúcz||Hungary||12 May 2004||19 September 2016|
|Donal Patrick Michael Barrington||Ireland||25 September 1989||10 January 1996|
|John D. Cooke||Ireland||10 January 1996||15 September 2008|
|Kevin O'Higgins||Ireland||15 September 2008||16 September 2013|
|Antonio Saggio||Italy||25 September 1989||4 March 1998|
|Paolo Mengozzi||Italy||4 March 1998||3 May 2006|
|Enzo Moavero Milanesi||Italy||3 May 2006||15 November 2011|
|Guido Berardis||Italy||17 September 2012||31 August 2019|
|Ezio Perillo||Italy||19 September 2016||26 September 2019|
|Ingrida Labucka||Latvia||12 May 2004||25 February 2020|
|Vilenas Vadapalas||Lithuania||12 May 2004||16 September 2013|
|Egidijus Bieliūnas||Lithuania||16 September 2013||26 September 2019|
|Romain Schintgen||Luxembourg||25 September 1989||11 July 1996|
|Ena Cremona||Malta||12 May 2004||22 March 2012|
|Peter George Xuereb||Malta||6 June 2016||8 October 2018|
|Cornelis Paulus Briët||Netherlands||25 September 1989||17 September 1998|
|Arjen Meij||Netherlands||17 September 1998||13 September 2010|
|Irena Wiszniewska-Bialecka||Poland||15 May 2004||19 September 2016|
|Nina Półtorak||Poland||13 April 2016||31 August 2016|
|José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça||Portugal||25 September 1989||18 September 1995|
|Rui Manuel Gens De Moura Ramos||Portugal||19 September 1995||31 March 2003|
|Maria Eguénia Martins De Nazaré Ribeiro||Portugal||31 March 2003||19 September 2016|
|Valeriu M. Ciuca||Romania||12 January 2007||26 November 2010|
|Andrei Popescu||Romania||26 November 2010||19 September 2016|
|Daniel Šváby||Slovakia||21 May 2004||6 October 2010|
|Verica Trstenjak||Slovenia||7 July 2004||6 October 2006|
|Miro Prek||Slovenia||6 October 2006||26 September 2019|
|Rafael Garcia-Valdecasas Y Fernández||Spain||25 September 1989||17 September 2007|
|Santiago Soldevila Fragoso||Spain||17 September 2007||16 September 2013|
|Ignacio Ulloa Rubio||Spain||16 September 2013||26 September 2019|
|Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Ibáñez-Martín||Spain||13 April 2016||26 September 2019|
|Pernilla Lindh||Sweden||18 January 1995||6 October 2006|
|Nils Wahl||Sweden||6 October 2006||28 November 2012|
|Carl Wetter||Sweden||18 March 2013||19 September 2016|
|Former Member State|
|David A. O. Edward||United Kingdom||25 September 1989||10 March 1992|
|Christopher William Bellamy||United Kingdom||10 March 1992||15 December 1999|
|Nicholas James Forwood||United Kingdom||15 December 1999||7 October 2015|
|Ian Stewart Forrester||United Kingdom||1 October 2015||31 January 2020|
List of registrars
|27 September 1989||6 October 2005||Hans Jung|
|6 October 2005||Incumbent (until at least 5 October 2023)||Emmanuel Coulon|
The General Court, like the Court of Justice, has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties of the European Union and the provisions adopted by the competent Union institutions.
To fulfil its main task, the General Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine at first instance all direct actions brought by individuals and the Member States, with the exception of those to be assigned to a 'judicial panel' and those reserved for the Court of Justice.
Categories of direct actions
- Actions for annulment
(against acts of the Union institutions)
- Actions for failure to act
(against inaction by the Union institutions)
- Actions for damages
(for the reparation of damage caused by unlawful conduct on the part of a Union institution)
- Actions based on an arbitration clause
(disputes concerning contracts in public or private law entered into by the Union, containing such a clause)
- Actions concerning the civil service – As of 2006 these cases were transferred to the new Civil Service Tribunal
(disputes between the Union and its officials and other servants)
Subject-matter of direct actions: all matters, including:
- State aid
- commercial policy
- regional policy
- social policy
- institutional law
- trade mark and design right law
The General Court has its own Rules of Procedure. As a rule, the Court's procedure includes a written phase and an oral phase. The proceedings are conducted in a language at the petitioner's choosing. As in the European Court of Justice, the working language of the Court is nevertheless French, and this includes the language the judges deliberate in and the drafting language of preliminary reports and judgments.
The Court is separated into 9 divisions (called ‘chambers’) sat by 3-judge benches, except for the 7th division whose bench is sat by 4 judges. Each chamber has an extended composition of 5 judges. Cases are assigned by the President of the Court to a relevant divisional presiding judge. The presiding judge assigned to the case then chooses a judge-reporter (judge-rapporteur) from the judges of the division, whose clerks write a preliminary report (rapport préalable) based on the parties' pleadings and applicable law.
At the close of the written phase and, as the case may be, on adoption of measures of inquiry, the case is argued orally in open court. The proceedings are interpreted simultaneously, if necessary, into various official languages of the European Union. The judges then deliberate based on a draft judgment prepared by the judge-reporter. The Court's final judgment is handed down in open court.
- Under the terms of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, concluded as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the CJEU — and hence the EGC — continues to have jurisdiction over the operation of EU law applying to Northern Ireland in relation to customs and the movement of goods, technical regulations, VAT and excise, the Single Electricity Market and State aid, and may hear applications for preliminary rulings made by Northern Irish courts.
- House of Lords European Union Committee (1 June 2020). 9th Report of Session 2019–21: The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (Report). House of Lords. p. 65. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
The Protocol will also confer full jurisdiction on the CJEU to oversee the operation of EU law applying to Northern Ireland in relation to customs and the movement of goods, technical regulations, VAT and excise, the Single Electricity Market and State aid; including the jurisdiction to hear applications for preliminary rulings submitted by the courts of Northern Ireland. The UK will have the right to participate in these proceedings as if it were a Member State.
- Butler, Graham (2019). "An Interim Post-Mortem: Specialised Courts in the EU Judicial Architecture after the Civil Service Tribunal". International Organizations Law Review. 16. doi:10.1163/15723747-2019010.
- "REGULATION (EU, Euratom) 2016/1192 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 6 July 2016 on the transfer to the General Court of jurisdiction at first instance in disputes between the European Union and its servants". Official Journal of the European Union. 200/138. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- "CURIA – Mandati od leta 1989 – Sodišče Evropske unije". curia.europa.eu. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
- "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- "EU Court of Justice: three judges and an advocate-general appointed". www.consilium.europa.eu (in Slovenian). Retrieved 17 December 2020.
- Mattila, Heikki E. S. (2006). Comparative legal linguistics – Heikki E. S. Mattila – Google Boeken. ISBN 9780754648741. Retrieved 27 January 2012.