(CN) - Appeals dropped 8 percent for the European Union in 2012, but the backlog of pending cases rose for the third year in a row, the EU's highest court said.
The Court of Justice for the European Union said it saw 632 cases in 2012, down 8 percent from a record-breaking 688 in 2011. It attributes the decrease to a drop in the number of appeals of judgments of the General Court.
Proceedings were also less lengthy last year, according to statistics the court announced Wednesday. References for a preliminary ruling averaged 15.7 months - a new Court of Justice record - while direct actions and appeals took 19.7 months and 15.3 months, respectively.
Pending cases have not dropped since 2009, when the count fell from 768 to 742. In 2010, that figure rose to 799, then to 849 the next year. In 2012, it spiked at 886, an increase of more than 4 percent.
New filings at the EU's General Court fell by nearly 15 percent to 617, down from a record 722 in 2011. The lower court completed 688 cases and touted "a new level of judicial productivity" stemming from internal reforms that reduced pending cases by more than 5 percent over 2011.
Meanwhile the Civil Service Tribunal - which handles disputes between the European Union and its public employees - reported a record 178 cases brought before the seven-judge panel in 2012.
The tribunal's productivity also dropped by a staggering 27 percent, completing only 121 cases in 2012 compared with the previous year's record 166. The Court of Justice blamed the fall on a changing of the guard at the tribunal in late 2011.
"The newly appointed judges could not reach their full productivity until they had been in office for several months because of the time required for the investigation and deciding of cases," the court said in a statement.
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