Definitions

Court of First Instance

Court of First Instance

The European Court of First Instance, created in 1989, is a court of the European Union.

Jurisdiction

The Court of First Instance hears disputes (such as disputes brought by those refused a trademark by OHIM, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry). Appeals are sent to the European Court of Justice. The Court of First Instance is an independent Court attached to the European Court of Justice.

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.

Composition

As of January, 2007, the Court of First Instance is composed of 27 Judges, at least one from each Member State. The Judges are appointed for a renewable term of six years by common accord of the governments of the Member States.

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.

Presidents of the Court of First Instance

Year Presidents of the Court of First Instance
1989–1995 José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça
1995–1998 Antonio Saggio
1998–2007 Bo Vesterdorf
2007–present Marc Jaeger

Judges

Name Country Elected Term Ends
Marc Jaeger Luxembourg 1996 2010
Virpi Tiili Finland 1995 2007
Josef Azizi Austria 1995 2007
John D. Cooke Ireland 1996 2008
Arjen Meij Netherlands 1998 2010
Mihalis Vilaras Greece 1998 2010
Nicholas James Forwood United Kingdom 1999 2011
Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro Portugal 2003 2009
Franklin Dehousse Belgium 2003 2009
Ena Cremona Malta 2004 2010
Ottó Czúcz Hungary 2004 2010
Irena Wiszniewska-Białecka Poland 2004 2010
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic 2004 2010
Daniel Šváby Slovakia 2004 2010
Vilenas Vadapalas Lithuania 2004 2010
Küllike Jürimäe Estonia 2004 2010
Ingrida Labucka Latvia 2004 2010
Savvas S. Papasavvas Cyprus 2004 2010
Enzo Moavero Milanesi Italy 2006 2012
Nils Wahl Sweden 2006 2012
Miro Prek Slovenia 2006 2013
Teodor Tchipev Bulgaria 2006 2012
Valeriu M. Ciucă Romania 2007 2013
Alfred Dittrich Germany 2007 2013
Santiago Soldevila Fragoso Spain 2007 2013
Laurent Truchot France 2007 2013
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark 2007 2013
Emmanuel Coulon France 2007 2013

Jurisdiction

The Court of First Instance, like the Court of Justice, has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties constituting the European Communities and the provisions adopted by the competent Community institutions.

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.

Categories of direct actions

  • Actions for annulment

(against acts of the Community institutions)

  • Actions for failure to act

(against inaction by the Community institutions)

  • Actions for damages

(for the reparation of damage caused by unlawful conduct on the part of a Community institution)

  • Actions based on an arbitration clause

(disputes concerning contracts in public or private law entered into by the Community, 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 Community and its officials and other servants)

Subject-matter of direct actions: all matters, including:

  • agriculture
  • State aid
  • competition
  • commercial policy
  • regional policy
  • social policy
  • institutional law
  • trade mark law
  • transport

Procedure before the Court of First Instance

The Court of First Instance has its own Rules of Procedure. As a rule the Court’s procedure includes a written phase and an oral phase. The proceedings are in a language chosen by the applicant. A Judge-Rapporteur is appointed at the beginning of each case by the President of the Court to follow closely the course of the proceedings. At the close of the written procedure 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, as necessary, into different official languages of the European Union. The Judges then deliberate on the basis of a draft judgment prepared by the Judge-Rapporteur. The judgment is delivered in open court.

Future rename

The Treaty of Lisbon (and also the European Constitution that failed to ratify) will rename the Court of First Instance to "General Court". The Court of Justice of the European Communities will be renamed "Court of Justice", and the term "Court of Justice of the European Union" will officially designate the two levels of jurisdiction taken together.

References

External links

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