Tag Archives: Court of Justice

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors' assets

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Even with a court judgment obtained, recovering cross-border debts may be difficult for creditors in practice if no information on the debtors’ assets or whereabouts is available. Because of this, the European Commission has adopted a Green Paper launching a public consultation on how to improve the recovery of debts through possible measures such as registers and debtor declarations.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 6 March 2008 on the effective enforcement of judgments in the European Union: the transparency of debtors’ assets [COM(2008) 128 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The late and non-payment of debts is detrimental to business and customers alike, particularly when no information is available on the debtor’s assets or whereabouts. This is a particular cross-border issue in debt recovery and has the potential to affect the smooth running of the internal market. In launching a public consultation, the European Commission has outlined the problems of the current situation and possible solutions in this Green Paper. Interested parties can submit their comments by 30 September 2008.

State of play

The search for a debtor’s address and information on his financial situation is often the starting point for enforcement proceedings. At national level, most Member States mainly use two different systems for obtaining information, either:

  • systems of declaration of the debtor’s entire assets or at least a part of it to satisfy the claim;
  • search systems with specific information (registers).

In this Green Paper, the European Commission focuses more on a series of measures instead of one single European measure to allow the creditor to obtain reliable information on the debtor’s assets and whereabouts within a reasonable period of time. Possible measures include:

  • drawing up a manual of national enforcement laws and practices: at present, there is very little information on the different enforcement systems in the 27 European Union Member States. Such a manual could contain all sources of information on a person’s assets, which could be accessed in each country; contact addresses, costs, etc.
  • increasing the information available and improving access to registers: the main sources of information on the debtor are public registers, such as commercial or population registers. However, these vary from one Member State to the next. The Commission is asking whether to increase information available in and access to commercial registers and in what way access to existing population registers should be enhanced. Furthermore, access to social security and tax registers by enforcement authorities may be increased, while respecting rules of data protection and social and fiscal privacy.
  • exchange of information between enforcement authorities: currently, enforcement bodies are not able to directly access the (non-public) registers of other Member States which are open to national enforcement bodies. In addition, there are no international instruments dealing with the exchange of information between national enforcement bodies. In the absence of a Europe-wide register, enhancing cooperation between national enforcement authorities and direct exchange of information between them may a possible solution.
  • measures relating to the debtor’s declaration: enforcement bodies have in several Member States the option to question the debtor directly regarding his assets, whereas in some Member States the debtor’s declaration is made in the form of a testimony before the enforcement court. In some Member States, the debtor has to fill out mandatory forms, and in others a debtor’s declaration does not exist at all. The European Commission is considering introducing a European Assets declaration, obliging the debtors to disclose all assets in the European judicial area. In this way, the transparency of the debtor’s assets would not be limited by the territoriality of the enforcement proceedings.

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the General Court

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Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the General Court.

Summary

The Rules of Procedure lay down the provisions relating to the internal organisation of the General Court and the arrangements for proceedings brought before it. In particular, the Court is responsible for dealing with:

  • direct appeals lodged by natural and legal persons and those directed against acts by Union institutions, bodies and organisations;
  • appeals lodged by Member States against the European Commission or the Council;
  • appeals relating to the Community trade mark;
  • appeals against decisions by the EU Civil Service Tribunal.

Organisation of the Court

The Court is organised in the following way:

  • composition of the Court: the Court comprises 27 members and one judge per Member State. They elect the President of the Court for a 3-year period. The President is responsible for directing the business and services of the Court, presides at hearings and deliberations in closed session and deals with applications for interim measures.
  • constitution of the chambers and designation of Judge-Rapporteurs: the Court consists of chambers composed of three and five judges. These chambers are responsible for managing the cases assigned to them. A Judge-Rapporteur is designated to handle each case. The judges elect the presidents of the chambers.
  • role of the Registrar: the Registrar, appointed by the Court for a 6-year period, is responsible for assisting the Court, the President, and the judges in all their duties. The Registrar is responsible for the Court’s archives and publications.
  • working of the Court: the Court deliberates in closed session. The conclusions reached by the majority of the Judges after the deliberations determine the decision of the Court.
  • languages: the applicant has the option to choose the language of the case from the twenty-three official languages of the Union.
  • rights and obligations of agents, advisers and lawyers: these persons enjoy immunity in respect of words spoken or written by them. Papers and documents relating to the proceedings are exempt from both search and seizure.

Characteristics of the procedures

The procedures of the Court may include all or some of the stages listed below:

  • written procedure: this involves an exchange of pleas between the parties. The application must contain information relating to the name and address of the applicant, the designation of the opposing party, the subject-matter of the proceedings, the form of order and the nature of any evidence. The original copy of the application must be signed by the agent or lawyer of the applicant. The defendant must lodge a defence within the following two months, containing the defendant’s name and address, the arguments relied on, the form of order and the nature of any evidence.
  • the oral procedure takes place during a hearing. The proceedings are opened and directed by the President, who puts questions to the agents, advisers and lawyers of the parties. The parties may not plead on their own behalf. They must be represented by an agent or a lawyer. At the end of these proceedings, the Registrar draws up the minutes.
  • the measures of inquiry and the examination of witnesses concern the appearance of the parties, the request for information and production of documents, the witness testimony, the expert’s report, and an inspection of the place in question. Certain facts are proved by the witnesses. The latter are summoned by the Court, possibly at the request of the parties.

Legal aid may be granted specifically to cover costs relating to legal assistance and representation before the Court.

Special forms of procedure

Because an action for annulment does not have suspensory effect, an application to suspend the operation of a contested measure may be made by the applicant if it brings an action before the Court. In particular, the application for suspension must specify the subject-matter of the proceedings and the circumstances giving rise to the urgency, which justify the suspension sought.

If s/he presents the interest required, an intervener may take part in proceedings already taking place before the Court. In this case, s/he must first present an application to intervene, identifying the case and the principal parties, and presenting the circumstances establishing the right to intervene.

Seised on appeal, the Court of Justice can set aside a judgment or an order of the Court. If a decision of the Court is set aside, the Court may be seised again by the referral order.

In the case of third-party proceedings, namely an application to the judge to rule again on a case which has already received a judgment, they can be requested within two months following publication of the judgment in the Official Journal. A revision of the judgment may also be required in the case of an error.

Handling of disputes relating to intellectual property rights

This type of dispute concerns appeals to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) concerning the application of rules relating to intellectual property rights.

Interveners other than the applicant may intervene during the course of the proceedings and shall have the same rights as the principal parties.

Handling of appeals against decisions of the European Civil Service Tribunal

The General Court is responsible for handling appeals against decisions of the Civil Service Tribunal. For this type of appeal, an application is lodged with the Registry of the General Court or of the Civil Service Tribunal. The language of the proceedings is that of the Civil Service Tribunal decision which is the subject of the appeal.

The appeal includes the following information:

  • name and address of the applicant;
  • designation of the other parties;
  • the pleas and supporting arguments in law;
  • the form of order sought by the applicant.

The parties may present their case, which may lead to either the rejection of the appeal or to the annulment of the Civil Service Tribunal decision.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.7.1991

OJ L 136, 30.5.1991

Amending Act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.11.1994

OJ L 249, 24.9.1994

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.4.1995

OJ L 44, 28.2.1995

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.9.1995

OJ L 172, 22.7.1995

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.6.1997

OJ L 103, 19.4.1997

Court of First Instance of the European Communities Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities aimed at enabling the Court to act in a formation of one judge of 17 May 1999

17.5.1999

OJ L 135, 29.5.1999

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.2.2001

OJ L 322, 19.12.2000

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities following the entry into force of the Nice Treaty

1.8.2003

OJ L 147, 14.6.2003

Decision 2004/406/EC

19.4.2004

OJ L 132, 29.4.2004

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.1.2006

OJ L 298, 15.11.2005

Decision 2006/956/EC

1.1.2007

OJ L 386, 29.12.2006

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.9.2008

OJ L 179, 8.7.2008

Decision 2009/170/EC

1.5.2009

OJ L 60, 4.3.2009

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court

13.4.2010

OJ L 92, 13.4.2010

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court

1.7.2011

OJ L 162, 22.6.2011

Successive amendments and corrections to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version (FR ) is for reference only.

RELATED ACTS

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of 29 September 2012 [Official Journal L 265 of 29.9.2012].

Summary

These Rules of Procedure lay down the provisions required to implement and supplement the Statute of the Court of Justice detailed in Protocol No. 3 annexed to the Treaties.

The Court of Justice is one of the three courts comprising the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judicial institution of the Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The other two courts are the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal. Their mission is to ensure the law is complied with in the interpretation and implementation of the Treaties by monitoring the legality of Union acts.

Organisation of the Court

The Court shall be organised as follows:

  • composition of the Court: the Court shall comprise 27 judges and 8 Advocates General, appointed for six years. The tasks of the Advocates General shall be to attend the Court and present legal opinions. The judges shall elect the President of the Court and the Vice-President for a term of three years. The President shall be responsible for representing the Court and managing its work programme; the Vice-President shall assist the President with his duties.
  • Constitution of chambers and designation of the Judge-Rapporteurs:The Court shall set up Chambers of five Judges, the President of which shall be elected for three years, and Chambers of three judges, the President of which shall be elected for one year. The President of the Court shall designate a Judge-Rapporteur to deal with a case, while an Advocate General shall be designated by the First Advocate General. If necessary, the Court may appoint Assistant Rapporteurs.
  • role of the Registrar:The Court shall appoint a Registrar for a term of six years. The Registrar shall be responsible for the acceptance, transmission and custody of all documents, and shall be responsible for the records. In addition, the Registrar shall assist the Members of the Court and shall be in charge of the publications of the Court. Lastly, he shall direct the services of the Court under the authority of the President of the Court.
  • working of the Court:Cases shall be assigned to the full Court, the Grand Chamber or to a Chamber of five or three judges. Several cases may be heard and determined together by one and the same formation of the Court. The deliberations of the Court shall remain secret.
  • languages:a language shall be assigned for each case. In direct actions, the applicant may choose the language from the twenty-three official European Union languages. In preliminary ruling proceedings, the language of the case shall be that of the national court or tribunal.

Characteristics of proceedings

In general, proceedings before the Court shall comprise the following phases:

  • written proceedings: this involves an exchange of pleadings between the parties. The pleadings must have clearly-defined content. Once the procedure is closed, a preliminary report shall be presented by the Judge-Rapporteur to the general meeting of the Court.
  • measures of inquiry: The Court can determine the measures of inquiry such as the personal appearance of the parties, requests for information and documents, oral testimony, the commissioning of an expert’s report and an inspection of the place or thing in question. Minutes of every inquiry hearing shall be drawn up.
  • Oral proceedings shall take place, if necessary, after the inquiry. Oral proceedings shall thus be opened and directed by the President. Oral proceedings may take place in camera.
  • Opinion of the Advocate General:at the end of these proceedings, the Advocate General shall deliver his Opinion.
  • the final decision:the Court shall decide by judgment or by order. Only the judgment shall be delivered in open court. Judgments and orders contain different information, such as a summary of the facts and the grounds for the decision. A copy shall then be distributed to each of the parties.

Furthermore, the Rules shall contain specific provisions concerning the different procedures before the Court: preliminary ruling procedure, direct actions, appeals against decisions of the General Court, opinions, and other particular forms of procedure.

References for a preliminary hearing

National courts may submit a reference for a preliminary hearing before the General Court in order to question the interpretation of European Union law. As part of a reference for a preliminary hearing, observations may be made by, in particular:

  • the parties to the main proceedings;
  • the Member States;
  • the European Commission;
  • the institution which adopted the act, the validity or interpretation of which is in dispute.

Appeals against decisions by the General Court

It is possible to bring an appeal against a decision by the General Court. In this case, an application must be lodged with the Registry containing, in particular, the pleas in law and legal arguments relied on. The application must seek to have the decision set aside, in whole or in part.

Review of decisions of the General Court

In two instances, specifically when it ruled in an appeal against a decision by the Civil Service Tribunal, the decisions of the General Court can be subject to a review by the Court. A Chamber of five Judges shall be designated for a period of one year to carry out the reviews.

Reference

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice

1.11.2012

OJ L 265 of 29.9.2012 and

OJ C 337 of 6.11.2012

Related Act(S)

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No. 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

European and international courts

European and international courts

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European and international courts

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Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

European and international courts

COURTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) refers to the whole judicial system of the EU. It is composed of three courts:

  • the Court of Justice;
  • the General Court;
  • the Specialised Courts.

Court of Justice

The Court of Justice has jurisdiction in actions brought by Member States or European institutions. It may also have jurisdiction of last resort in judgments delivered by the General Court. In this case, it rules on the questions of law only and not on the facts of the case.

General Court

The General Court is attached to the Court of Justice and is designed to reduce that Court’s workload.

The General Court has jurisdiction to hear at first instance actions brought by Member States or individuals in the cases provided for by the European Treaties.

Specialised Courts

The Specialised Courts were created by the European Parliament and the Council in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure. These courts have jurisdiction at first instance in certain categories of action on specific matters.

Different types of action

The CJEU is responsible for ensuring compliance with European law. It has jurisdiction in actions brought by Member States, other European institutions and European citizens. There are several types of procedure:

  • the action for annulment;
  • the proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation;
  • the proceedings for failure to act;
  • the action for damages;
  • the reference for a preliminary ruling.

INTERNATIONAL COURTS

There is a wide range of courts and tribunals that hear disputes at international level and which have their headquarters on European territory. However, these courts do not come under the auspices of the European Union. They are:

  • the courts of other European organisations, in particular the European Court of Human Rights and the EFTA Court (European Free Trade Association);
  • the courts created under the auspices of the United Nations;
  • the independent dispute settlement bodies of the United Nations.

Courts of other European organisations

Neither the European Court of Human Rights nor the EFTA Court is a European Union institution.

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up under the Council of Europe, which currently has 47 Member States. The Court enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, signed on 4 November 1950.

The EFTA Court enforces the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The Agreement secures freedom of movement of persons, goods, services, etc.

Courts created under the auspices of the United Nations

The Member States of the United Nations have established three Permanent Courts of Justice – the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The
International Court of Justice

(ICJ). The ICJ was founded by the Charter of the United Nations, signed on 26 June 1945. It is the main judicial body in the United Nations family and has jurisdiction in, among other matters, questions relating to the Charter of the United Nations, the interpretation of international treaties, questions of international law, violations of international law and the nature and extent of compensation in the event of a violation of an obligation under international law. Only States can be parties in cases in the Court. The ICJ sits at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

The
International Criminal Court

(ICC) has the power to try persons who have committed serious crimes of international concern. These crimes include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The ICC sits at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent court set up by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (FR). It has jurisdiction in disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention. The States party to the Convention and natural and legal persons have access to the Tribunal, which sits at Hamburg, in Germany.

Furthermore, the United Nations has created two other non-permanent courts in order to try war crimes and certain genocides:

  • the
    International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY):
    the ICTY was created to try persons presumed to be responsible for war crimes committed in the Balkans during the conflicts in the 1990s;
  • the
    International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR):
    the ICTR was created to try persons presumed to be responsible for acts of genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed on Rwandan territory between 1 January and 31 December 1994.

United Nations independent dispute-settlement bodies

Apart from the international courts and tribunals, there are several other dispute-settlement bodies, in particular the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body.

The
Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
is an independent intergovernmental organisation. It administers arbitration and conciliation procedures and committees of inquiry in disputes between Member States, private parties and intergovernmental organisations on the basis of international arbitration regulations. The PCA sits at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

The
World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body settles disputes in world trade
. WTO dispute settlement is governed by the memorandum of agreement signed at Marrakech in 1994 following the Uruguay Round negotiations. The memorandum puts the emphasis on consultation and sets strict deadlines for settling disputes. The WTO is based at Geneva, in Switzerland.

This summary is for information only. It is not intended to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation

Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation

Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation are legal proceedings brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union. These proceedings may be brought by the Commission or by a Member State against a Member State which has not complied with European Union (EU) law.

Proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation are based on Articles 258 to 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Nature of the failure

The failure can stem from instruments (laws, decrees, administrative decisions, etc.) or be the result of facts (administrative practices, etc.).

It can be the consequence of positive behaviour (actions) or negative behaviour (abstentions, omissions). Thus, actions can, for instance, consist of the adoption of a text contrary to European law or the express refusal to repeal a national measure that is contrary to European law. Abstentions or omissions can, for example, consist of delays in transposing a directive or failure by Member States to notify national implementing measures to the Commission.

The act must be attributable to the Member State. For this reason, the concept of State is interpreted broadly by the Court of Justice in that it may mean all of the State bodies such as the government, the parliament, federated entities or sub-national bodies, etc.

Procedure

Proceedings may be brought either by the Commission, which is most often the case in practice, or by a Member State:

  • when the Commission initiates proceedings, it must first address a reasoned opinion to the Member State which has not complied with Union law. If, after a certain period, the Member State has still not rectified its failure to fulfil its obligation, the Commission may then bring proceedings against the Member State before the Court of Justice;
  • when a Member State initiates proceedings, it must first bring the matter before the Commission. The Commission then delivers a reasoned opinion after having heard the arguments of the Member States concerned. The plaintiff Member State may then bring the matter before the Court of Justice.

Once the matter has been referred, if the Court of Justice finds that there has been a failure to fulfil an obligation, it shall deliver its first judgment which includes the measures to be adopted by the Member State in order to rectify the situation. Subsequently, if the Commission considers that the Member State has not taken the necessary measures, it shall bring the matter before the Court of Justice a second time. If the Court confirms that the Member State has not complied with its first judgment, it may then impose a fine on it.

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces specific proceedings for cases where a Member State does not communicate the measures for transposing a directive to the Commission. In such a case, the Court may impose a pecuniary penalty on the Member State concerned from the date of the first judgment on the failure to fulfil an obligation.

Allocation of jurisdiction between the Court of Justice and the General Court

Only the Court of Justice is competent to hear proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation brought by a Member State or by the European Commission.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.