Law: Finding European Union Case-Law

There are two institutions that hear European Union cases: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) and The Court of First Instance (CFI).

The European Court of Justice (or its official title Court of Justice of the European Communities) was created by the Treaty of Rome, and interprets an applies European Union law as found in the treaties and legislation.

The Court of First Instance was created in 1989 to assist with the case load of the ECJ, and principally hears cases dealing with competition law, dumping, subsidies and staff grievances. Decisions of the Court of First Instance can be referred to the European Court of Justice for appeal.

European Union Case Citations

Each case is given a case number when it is referred to the Court. Cases before the European Court of Justice have the prefix 'C' and cases before the Court of First Instance the prefix 'T' e.g. T-168/96: Action brought on 22 October 1996 by Catherine Patronis against the Council of the European Union.

A full citation to a case would include this number plus the reference to where you can find the text of the case report

For example:

A typical citation to an ECJ case looks like this:

Case C-132/92 Birds Eye Walls Ltd v Friedel M Roberts [1993] ECR I-5579

This is interpreted as European Court of Justice (C), year it was added to the register (), case number (), party names (), year the report of the decision was published (), abbreviated title of the series of reports the case was published in (), section of the reports (), and page number ().ished (), abbreviated title of the series of reports the case was published in (), section of the reports (), and page number ().

Finding EU Case-Law using Electronic Sources

Curia

Is the official website of the European Court of Justice. It can be navigated using a.)Numerical access to case-law - a browsable list of all cases, a very straightforward way to find a case, if you know the case number.

b.)Search Form - allows searching by case number, case name, keywords in the text and date.

The site also includes a digest which provides summaries which contain the essential points of law laid down in the decision in question.

Recommended siteEurlex

Is the European Unions official portal to legal information. The case-law section provides a list of recent cases in each court plus a search engine for finding cases via case number or by year. If instead of clicking case-law you from the main menu you choose 'Simple Search', you can search EU case-law by a number of ways: if instead of clicking case-law from the main menu you choose 'Simple Search', you can search EU case-law by a number of ways:

1. General search for terms or keywords (this will search everything not just case-law)

2. Search by document number - if you use natural number here you can find a particular case by its case number

3. Search by file category - this is probably the best option if you wish to search for cases on a particular topic. This search facility allows you to search by court and then terms (keywords in the text) or choose a subject from a list when you choose subject matter. You can also search by date or parties if you are unsure of the full reference of a case.

4. Search by publication reference - if you know the reference for the case in the Official Journal (OJ) or the European Court Reports (ECR), you can use this to search for the text of the case.

Lexis Library

Click 'Cases' and you can choose to search by party names, search terms, citation (publication reference), date, judges or counsel. Note make sure you tick the box to search the ECJ or CFI.

TIP: Click the search tips to help you search using keywords. This link explains how to use connectors, proximity searching, phrase searching, truncation and wild cards. This can make your search more accurate or if you are not finding any results help to widen your search to include more terms or information.

Westlaw

Click 'EU' and you can choose to search using terms (keywords), parties or case name, case number, or publication reference. You can also browse by party (case) name or year.

TIP: Click on 'List of Connectors' to help you search using keywords. This link explains how to use connectors, proximity searching, phrase searching, truncation and wild cards. This can make your search more accurate or if you are not finding any results help to widen your search to include more terms or information.

Finding EU Case-Law using Print Sources

European Union cases are officially reported in two publications:

1.The Official Journal of The European Communities (OJ) J 280.2 - the 'C' series publishes court orders and judgements, plus a list of cases filed before the ECJ

2.Reports of Cases Before The Court of Justice and The Court of First Instance J 294 (usually referred to as the European Court Reports ECR) - this is the official reporter for EU court cases, the publication is divided two main sections, Section I which contains ECJ cases and Section II which publishes CFI cases.

Another source that you should be aware of is the commercially published Common Market Law Reports (CMLR) (not to be confused with the Common Market Law Review (CMLRev) which contains journal articles). This is held in the Library at KJA 150 + Online journal. The CMLR is published weekly, each volumes four months and has its own index.

Finding Cases using Print Sources when the full reference is not known.

Print sources are excellent resources when you have the full reference but if you do not it is recommended that you use one of the electronic sources to find the case you need. However, if you prefer print you can use:

1. Common market law reports has alphabetical and subject indexes. KJA 150 + Online journal

2. The European Court Reports have an index in the last volume of each year. Until 1990 the index listed cases by subject, parties, Community legislation cited and case number, but from 1990 only a chronological table of decisions is published. J 294 + Online journal

3. Index A-Z: numerical and alphabetical index of cases before the Court of Justice of the European Communities since 1953 - this is an annual cumulation and access by case/year and parties and can be used to establish whether a judgement or order has been made and, if so, in which year. J 294

4.Index to the Official Journal - published monthly in two parts: alphabetical and methodological. It offers subject access via the alphabetical section, whilst the methodological table lists cases by year/number in separate sequences for cases brought, judgements, orders and removals. J 280.2



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