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General Court (European Union)

General Court
LocationKirchberg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
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The General Court (EGC) is a constituent court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It hears actions taken against the institutions of the European Union by individuals and member states, although certain matters are reserved for the European Court of Justice. Decisions of the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice, but only on a point of law. Prior to the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance.


The General Court hears disputes (such as those by persons who have been refused a trade mark by EUIPO, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry).

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, to relieve it of some of the caseload, the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003, provides for the creation of 'judicial panels' in certain specific areas.

On 2 November 2004 the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. This new specialised tribunal, composed of seven judges, heard and determined at first instance disputes involving the European Civil Service. Its decisions were subject to a right of appeal before the General Court on points of law only. Decisions given by the General Court in this area might exceptionally be subject to review by the Court of Justice. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal was duly constituted into law on 2 December 2005. It was dissolved on 1 September 2016,[1] leading to the doubling of the number of judges at the General Court.[1] despite the success in its mandate,[2]


As of March 2019 the General Court is composed of 46 judges. In 2016 a reform was enacted that aims to increase the number of judges to 56 by 2019. 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 eleven 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 occasionally.

List of Presidents

1989–1995 Portugal José Luís da Cruz Vilaça
1995–1998 Italy Antonio Saggio
1998–2007 Denmark Bo Vesterdorf
2007–2019 Luxembourg Marc Jaeger
2019-present Netherlands Marc van der Woude


Name Country Elected Current Term Ends
Viktor Kreuschitz Austria Austria 2013 2022
TBA Austria Austria
Paul Nihoul Belgium Belgium 2016 2022
Geert De Baere Belgium Belgium 2017 2022
Mariyana Kancheva Bulgaria Bulgaria 2011 2025[3]
Alexander Kornezov Bulgaria Bulgaria 2016 2025[3]
Vesna Tomljenović Croatia Croatia 2013 2025[4]
Tamara Perišin Croatia Croatia 2019 2025[4]
Savvas Papasavvas (Vice-President) Cyprus Cyprus 2004 2022
Anna Marcoulli Cyprus Cyprus 2016 2022
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic Czech Republic 2004 2019
Jan M. Passer Czech Republic Czech Republic 2016 2025[4]
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark Denmark 2007 2022
Jesper Svenningsen Denmark Denmark 2016 2022
Lauri Madise Estonia Estonia 2013 2022
Iko Nõmm Estonia Estonia 2019[4] 2022[4]
Heikki Kanninen Finland Finland 2009 2022
Tuula Pynnä Finland Finland 2019[4] 2022[4]
Emmanuel Coulon (Registrar) France France 2005 2023
Stéphane Gervasoni France France 2013 2025[3]
Laurent Truchot France France 2019[3] 2025[3]
Alfred Dittrich Germany Germany 2007 2019
Gabriele Steinfatt Germany Germany 2019 2025[4]
Dimitrios Gratsias Greece Greece 2010 2022
Constantinos Iliopoulos Greece Greece 2016 2022
Barna Berke Hungary Hungary 2016 2022
Zoltán Csehi Hungary Hungary 2016 2022
Anthony Michael Collins Republic of Ireland Ireland 2013 2025[4]
Colm Mac Eochaidh Republic of Ireland Ireland 2017 2025 [4]
Guido Berardis Italy Italy 2012 2019
Ezio Perillo Italy Italy 2016 2019
Ingrida Labucka Latvia Latvia 2004 2019
Inga Reine Latvia Latvia 2016 2025[3]
Egidijus Bieliūnas Lithuania Lithuania 2013 2019
Virgilijus Valančius Lithuania Lithuania 2016 2019
Marc Jaeger Luxembourg Luxembourg 1996 2022
Dean Spielmann Luxembourg Luxembourg 2016 2022
Eugène Buttigieg Malta Malta 2012 2025
Ramona Frendo Malta Malta 2019 2025
Marc van der Woude (President) Netherlands Netherlands 2010 2022
René Barents Netherlands Netherlands 2016 2022
Krystyna Kowalik-Bańczyk Poland Poland 2016 2022
Nina Półtorak Poland Poland 2016 2016
Octavia Spineanu-Matei Romania Romania 2016 2022
Mirela Stancu Romania Romania 2019[3] 2022[3]
Maria José Costeira Portugal Portugal 2016 2022
Ricardo Da Silva Passos Portugal Portugal 2016 2022
Juraj Schwarcz Slovakia Slovakia 2009 2022
TBA Slovakia Slovakia
Miro Prek Slovenia Slovenia 2006 2019
TBA Slovenia Slovenia
Ignacio Ulloa Rubio Spain Spain 2013 2019
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Ibáñez-Martín Spain Spain 2016 2019
Ulf Christophe Öberg Sweden Sweden 2016 2025[3]
Fredrik Schalin Sweden Sweden 2016 2025[3]
Ian Stewart Forrester United Kingdom United Kingdom 2015 2019
TBA United Kingdom United Kingdom

Former Judges (incomplete list)

Name Country Elected Term Ended Ref.
Virpi Tiili Finland Finland 8 January 1995 6 October 2009 [5]
Arjen Meij Netherlands Netherlands 17 September 1998 13 September 2010 [6]
Ena Cremona Malta Malta 12 May 2004 22 March 2010 [6]
Daniel Šváby Slovakia Slovakia 2004 2010 [6]
Teodor Tchipev Bulgaria Bulgaria 12 January 2007 29 June 2010 [6]
Valeriu M. Ciuca Romania Romania 12 January 2007 26 November 2010 [6]
Verica Trstenjak Slovenia Slovenia


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.

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 and design right 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 conducted in a language at the petitioner's choosing. As in the European Court of Justice, the working language of the Court is nevertheless French, and this includes the language the judges deliberate in and the drafting language of preliminary reports and judgments.[7]

The Court is separated into 9 divisions (called ‘chambers’) sat by 3-judge benches, except for the 7th division whose bench is sat by 4 judges. Each chamber has an extended composition of 5 judges. Cases are assigned by the President of the Court to a relevant divisional presiding judge. The presiding judge assigned to the case then chooses a judge-reporter (judge-rapporteur) from the judges of the division, whose clerks write a preliminary report (rapport préalable) based on the parties' pleadings and applicable law.

At the close of the written phase 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, if necessary, into various official languages of the European Union. The judges then deliberate based on a draft judgment prepared by the judge-reporter. The Court's final judgment is handed down in open court.


  1. ^ a b "REGULATION (EU, Euratom) 2016/1192 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 6 July 2016 on the transfer to the General Court of jurisdiction at first instance in disputes between the European Union and its servants". Official Journal of the European Union. 200/138. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  2. ^ Butler, Graham (2019). "An Interim Post-Mortem: Specialised Courts in the EU Judicial Architecture after the Civil Service Tribunal". International Organizations Law Review. 16. doi:10.1163/15723747-2019010. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j []
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j []
  5. ^ "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  7. ^ Comparative legal linguistics – Heikki E. S. Mattila – Google Boeken. Retrieved 27 January 2012.

External links