Step 13: Taking your case to the EU

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Primary Content Source: Wesley Budler



On 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union (“Brexit”). At this point, it is difficult to predict how or when the exit will be affected and the effect the exit will have on the application of EU law to the UK. However, it is likely that the UK exit will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK. It is also likely that the exit will take a considerable amount of time. In the meantime, the UK remains bound by European law until it formally exits the EU. You will need to consider very carefully if you wish to proceed with a claim using the EU Courts as Brexit is likely to have a significant effect on your decision to use these courts.


European Courts

The Court of Justice of the European Union consists of the:

  • Court of Justice;

  • General Court; and

  • Civil Service Tribunal.


What cases can be brought before the Court of Justice?

The Court of Justice can hear the following cases:

  • References for preliminary rulings from national courts. A reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union is a procedure designed to ensure uniform interpretation and validity of European Union law across all the member states.


This procedure is used when an English court needs an interpretation of EU legislation and the court will refer the determination of the interpretation to the Court of Justice before continuing with the trial.

  • Infringement proceedings (brought under Articles 258 to 260 TFEU).

  • Appeals from the General Court.


What cases can be brought before the General Court?

The General Court was created in 1989 to help with the case load of the ECJ. The General Court primarily hears actions brought by private individuals, companies, and some organisations, and cases relating to competition law. Judgments of the General Court can be appealed to the ECJ within two months of being issued.

You would be able to take your case to the General Court if your case involves an action:

  • against an EU Institution, body, office or agency and against regulatory acts or against a failure to act on the part of those Institutions, bodies, offices or agencies;

  • seeking compensation for damage caused by the EU Institutions or their staff;

  • based on contracts made by the EU which expressly give jurisdiction to the General Court;

  • relating to community trade marks;

  • relating to appeals, limited to points of law, against the decisions of the Civil Service Tribunal; and

  • actions brought against decisions of the Community Plant Variety Office or of the European Chemicals Agency.


What cases can be brought before Civil Services Tribunal

This is a specialized court which forms part of the Court of Justice of the EU. It deals primarily with:

  • disputes between EU civil servants and their respective EU Institutions; and

  • cases involving staff members of EU bodies or agencies.


If your case is not being brought in your capacity as an EU civil servant, these courts will not be applicable to you.