The creation of the Court of First Instance instituted a judicial system based on two levels of jurisdiction: all cases heard at first instance by the Court of First Instance 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 Court of First Instance in the last five years, in order to relieve it of some of the caseload, the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on February 1, 2003, provides for the creation of ‘judicial panels’ in certain specific areas.
On November 2, 2004 the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. This new specialised tribunal, composed of seven judges, will hear and determine at first instance disputes involving the European civil service. Its decisions will be subject to a right of appeal before the Court of First Instance on points of law only. Decisions given by the Court of First Instance in this area may exceptionally be subject to review by the Court of Justice. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal was duly constituted into law on December 2, 2005.
The creation of a European Union Patent Tribunal is currently being examined.
The Members of the Court of First Instance 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 Court of First Instance (unlike the European Court of Justice which has 8 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 only very occasionally.
|Year||Presidents of the Court of First Instance|
|1989–1995||José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça|
|John D. Cooke||Ireland||1996||2008|
|Nicholas James Forwood||United Kingdom||1999||2011|
|Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro||Portugal||2003||2009|
|Irena Pelikánová||Czech Republic||2004||2010|
|Savvas S. Papasavvas||Cyprus||2004||2010|
|Enzo Moavero Milanesi||Italy||2006||2012|
|Valeriu M. Ciucă||Romania||2007||2013|
|Santiago Soldevila Fragoso||Spain||2007||2013|
|Sten Frimodt Nielsen||Denmark||2007||2013|
In order to fulfil its main task, the Court of First Instance 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.
(against acts of the Community institutions)
(against inaction by the Community institutions)
(for the reparation of damage caused by unlawful conduct on the part of a Community institution)
(disputes concerning contracts in public or private law entered into by the Community, containing such a clause)
(disputes between the Community and its officials and other servants)
Subject-matter of direct actions: all matters, including: