Court of Justice
last updated July 29, 2013



Type of Mechanism
Scope of the Procedure
Interpretation of European Union Law, but not an adjudication of cases concerning individual rights
Who can Submit a Complaint?
Member States, European Community Institutions and businesses. Individuals can bring cases but the procedure is limited to a request that the Court annul an EU law that affects them directly and individually.[1]
Role of Advocates
Lawyers can represent the parties that can bring cases.  Article 25 of the Statute of the Court of Justice allows the Court at any time to hear an expert opinion from an advocate or NGO.[2]
Available Remedies
Preliminary ruling on an interpretation of European Union Law; proceedings for failure to fulfill an obligation; proceedings for annulment; proceedings for failure to act; and direct actions by a person or company who has suffered direct damage as a result of action or inaction by the Community or its staff Direct actions must be brought in the General Court.[3]
How to Submit a Complaint
Cases are submitted to a registry and then distributed among the judges. A specific judge and advocate-general follows each file.
The Court of First Instance was a body created from the Court of Justice in 1989 to hear cases brought by individuals. Since 2009, the Court of First Instance has become known as the General Court.[4]
Where to Send Communications
Palais de la Cour de Justice
Boulevard Konrad Adenauer
L-2925 Luxembourg
Tel: +352 4303 1
Fax: +352 4303 2600
How the Complaint Procedure Works
The Court procedures are divided into a written and oral phase.  First, the parties exchange written statements.  Next, a judge-rapporteur, one of the Court judges, prepares a report of the case.
At the next phase, at a public hearing, the lawyers state their case to the judges and an advocate-general, who presents an impartial opinion on cases before the Court.  Both the judges and the advocates-general may ask questions of the parties.  The advocate-general gives a conclusion to the Court before it deliberates and gives its judgment, although the court does not necessarily follow the opinion of the advocate-general.  Judgments are delivered publicly.[5]
The Court of Justice is not an effective remedy for violations of individual rights, but is the body that ensures that European Union Law is interpreted consistently.  Individuals can, however, address the Court concerning specific EU laws that they wish to have annulled.  


Additional Resources
The Court of Justice website is available here. The Court of Justice has produced informational brochures on the Court of Justice, including relevant case law and history. These brochures can be found on the Publications and Multimedia section of the Court of Justice website.  The Rules of Procedure for the Court of Justice and the General Court can also be downloaded from this site.
Additionally, the European Union provides a brief description of the Court of Justice on its website.
[1] “Court of Justice of the European Union,” European Union, accessed June 17, 2013,
[2]Official Journal of the European Union, Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice on the European Union, Article 25,December 16, 2004,
[3] “Court of Justice of the European Union,” European Union, accessed June 17, 2013,
[4]European Court of Justice, The Court of Justice and the other international courts, June 2010,
[5] “Court of Justice of the European Union,” European Union, accessed June 17, 2013,