EU Courts Tout Reform for Shrinking Logjam

     (CN) – The three European Union courts dispensed with more cases than were filed in 2015, finally chipping away at a backlog that has dogged the EU’s judiciary for years.
     According to a statement by the European Court of Justice, 1,711 cases were filed between the three courts that make up the EU judiciary – the Court of Justice, which is the highest court in the union, the European General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal, which only handles disputes from EU government workers.
     The three courts completed 1,755 cases in 2015, helped in large part by the appointment of new judges to the European General Court as part of a long-awaited judicial reform package finally passed by EU lawmakers this past year.
     The EU high court saw 713 cases brought before it in 2015, a 15 percent increase over 2014 and “an absolute record in the court’s history,” the court said. The court saw double the number of appeals compared with 2014 and a very large number of requests for preliminary rulings from national courts.
     But the high court completed fewer cases in 2015 than it had the year before and had 884 cases still pending at the close of the year.
     Still, the high court chipped away at length of proceedings, with direct actions taking 17.6 months in 2015 – a two month drop – and appeals lasting 14 months, the lowest figure in years.
     Meanwhile, the general court completed 987 cases in 2015, 20 percent more than the previous year and 90 percent more than in 2010. The court saw 831 cases filed, and decreased its backlog from 1,423 in 2014 to 1,267 in 2015.
     Duration of proceedings in the general court also fell, from 23.4 months in 2014 to 20.6 months in 2015.
     The Civil Service Tribunal saw a slight increase in the number of cases brought, which the number of completed cases held steady in 2015. The number of pending cases rose slightly to 231, but the court noted it has had to stay proceedings in a number of cases pending decisions from the general court.
     As part of the judicial reform package, the tribunal will merge with the general court by 2019.

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