The Workload of the Court of Justice of the European Union - European Union Committee Contents


The House of Lords European Union Committee is to conduct an inquiry, to be undertaken by its Justice and Institutions Sub-Committee, on the workload of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Sub-Committee invites you to give written evidence to the Inquiry.

Written evidence is sought by 24 September 2010. Public hearings will be held in October and November 2010. The Committee aims to report to the House, with recommendations, in February 2011. The report will receive a response from the Government, and may be debated in the House.


The ability of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance to handle their existing (pre-Lisbon) workload was noted by the European Union Committee in its report of April 2007, An EU Competition Court (15th Report of Session 2006-07). The Report on The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment (10th Report of Session 2007-08) noted also that the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice resulting from the changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, in combination with the enlargement of the EU, would "further swell the Court's docket", both in terms of volume and the range of legal issues before it. The latest annual report of the Court shows that the volume of cases remains high and the rate of disposal of cases is insufficient to make serious reductions in the turnaround time for litigation. The Courts themselves and other commentators have noted these trends and their effects on the increasing number of individuals who find themselves involved in EU litigation.

The Sub-Committee will examine, in respect of each constituent element of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal):

  • The trends in the workload of these courts.
  • The time taken for cases to be dealt with and the impact of the elapse of time.
  • Possible measures which could improve the speed with which cases are dealt with (whilst taking into account the limited possibility of Treaty change).
  • The budgetary and other impacts of such measures.

The Inquiry will not consider the substance of the Court's judgments, nor the procedures for appointing judges.

The issues

In addition to any general points you wish to make, the Sub-Committee invites views on the following:

  • What are the significant issues highlighted by the statistics relating to the past and current workload of the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal?
  • Are the turnaround times for disposal of cases comparable to other courts of equivalent standing?
  • Are the turnaround times for disposal of cases acceptable to litigants?
  • What considerations, both from the recent changes brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon and otherwise, are likely to affect the workloads of these courts and to what extent?
  • Will accession by the EU to the ECHR affect the working of these courts?
  • What are the significant challenges and impediments to the courts in handling their workload effectively and expeditiously?
  • Are there any bottlenecks in the processes of these courts?
  • What measures would improve the working of the courts, bearing in mind the limited possibility of Treaty change?
  • What could the Institutions and Member States do to help the Courts dispose of cases more expeditiously?

28 July 2010

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