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General Court (European Union)

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General Court (European Union)

General Court
Established 1989
Country European Union
Location Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Website [1]
European Union
Flag of the European Union

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

The 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.


The General Court hears disputes (such as those by persons who have been refused a trademark by OHIM, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry). Appeals are sent to the European Court of Justice. The General Court is an independent Court, but it is attached to the European Court of Justice.

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, 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 General Court on points of law only. Decisions given by the General Court 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 2 December 2005.

The creation of a European Union Patent Tribunal is currently being examined.


The General Court (previously known as the "Court of First Instance") is composed of 28 judges, one from each Member State, plus a registrar. 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 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 9 Advocate Generals). 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.

List of presidents

Year Name
1989–1995 José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça
1995–1998 Antonio Saggio
1998–2007 Bo Vesterdorf
2007–present Marc Jaeger


Name Country Elected Current Term Ends
Marc Jaeger (President) Luxembourg 1996 2016
Heikki Kanninen (Vice-President) Finland 2009 2016
Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro Portugal 2003 2016
Savvas S. Papasavvas Cyprus 2004 2016
Miro Prek Slovenia 2006 2019
Alfred Dittrich Germany 2007 2019
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark 2007 2016
Marc van der Woude Netherlands 2010 2016
Dimitrios Gratsias Greece 2010 2016
Guido Berardis Italy 2012 2019
Nicholas James Forwood United Kingdom 1999 2019
Franklin Dehousse Belgium 2003 2016
Ottó Czúcz Hungary 2004 2019
Irena Wiszniewska-Białecka Poland 2004 2016
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic 2004 2019
Ingrida Labucka Latvia 2006 2019
Juraj Schwarcz Slovakia 2009 2016
Andrei Popescu Romania 2010 2016
Mariyana Kancheva Bulgaria 2011 2019
Eugène Buttigieg Malta 2012 2019
Carl Wetter Sweden 2013 2019
Vesna Tomljenović Croatia 2013 2019
Egidijus Bieliūnas Lithuania 2013 2019
Viktor Kreuschitz Austria 2013 2016
Anthony Michael Collins Ireland 2013 2019
Ignacio Ulloa Rubio Spain 2013 2019
Stéphane Gervasoni France 2013 2019
Lauri Madise Estonia 2013 2016
Emmanuel Coulon (Registrar) France 2005 2017

Former Judges

Name Country Elected Term Ended Ref.
Virpi Tiili Finland 8 January 1995 6 October 2009 [1]
Arjen Meij Netherlands 17 September 1998 13 September 2010 [2]
Ena Cremona Malta 12 May 2004 22 March 2010 [2]
Daniel Šváby Slovakia 2004 2010 [2]
Teodor Tchipev Bulgaria 12 January 2007 29 June 2010 [2]


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:

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


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.[3]

The Court is separated into 8 divisions (called ‘chambers’) sat by 3-judge benches, except for the 6th and 8th divisions whose benches are sat by 4 judges and alternate to form 3-judge benches for the purposes of dealing with cases [2]. 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 (juge-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.


  1. ^ "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Comparative legal linguistics – Heikki E. S. Mattila – Google Boeken. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 

External links

  • General Court (official site)

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