General Court (European Union)

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

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The General Court (EGC) is a jurisdictional instance of the Court of Justice of the European Union. From its inception on 1 January 1989 to 30 November 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance (CFI).



The General Court 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 General Court is an independent Court 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, 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 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 December 2, 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 27 judges, at least 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 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.

List of presidents

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


Name Country Elected Term Ends
Marc Jaeger Luxembourg Luxembourg 1996 2010
Josef Azizi Austria Austria 1995 2013
Arjen Meij Netherlands Netherlands 1998 2010
Dimitris Gratsias Greece Greece 2010 2016
Nicholas James Forwood United Kingdom United Kingdom 1999 2011
Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro Portugal Portugal 2003 2015
Franklin Dehousse Belgium Belgium 2003 2015
Ena Cremona Malta Malta 2004 2010
Ottó Czúcz Hungary Hungary 2004 2010
Irena Wiszniewska-Białecka Poland Poland 2004 2010
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic Czech Republic 2004 2010
Daniel Šváby Slovakia Slovakia 2004 2010
Vilenas Vadapalas Lithuania Lithuania 2004 2010
Küllike Jürimäe Estonia Estonia 2004 2010
Ingrida Labucka Latvia Latvia 2004 2010
Savvas S. Papasavvas Cyprus Cyprus 2004 2010
Enzo Moavero Milanesi Italy Italy 2006 2012
Nils Wahl Sweden Sweden 2006 2012
Miro Prek Slovenia Slovenia 2006 2013 [1]
Mariyana Kancheva Bulgaria Bulgaria 2011 2013
Andrei Popescu Romania Romania 2010 2016
Alfred Dittrich Germany Germany 2007 2013
Santiago Soldevila Fragoso Spain Spain 2007 2013
Laurent Truchot France France 2007 2013
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark Denmark 2007 2013
Kevin C.O'Higgins Republic of Ireland Ireland 2008 2013
Heikki Kanninen Finland Finland 2009 2015
Juraj Schwarcz Slovakia Slovakia 2009 2015
Emmanuel Coulon (registrar) [1] France France 2005 2011

Former Judges

Name Country Elected Term Ended Ref.
Virpi Tiili Finland Finland January 8, 1995 October 6, 2009 [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.

In order 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 in a language chosen by the applicant. The working language of the Court, however, including the language in which the judges deliberate and the language in which preliminary reports and judgments are drafted is French. This makes the General Court, along with the Court of Justice of the European Union, the only international court where French is the sole working language [2]

The Court is divided into eight chambers, generally consisting of three judges, except for the sixth and the eighth chambers, which consist of four judges and alternate to form three-judge chambers for the purposes of dealing with cases [3]. Cases are distributed by the President of the Court to the Presidents of the chambers. The Presidents of chamber then assign a Judge-Rapporteur amongst the judges in the chamber, whose clerks write a preliminary report (rapport prealable) based on the pleadings received from the parties and the applicable law.

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.


External links

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