The European Foundation of Human Rights informs that the new procedural rules of the Court of Justice enter into force on 1 November 2012. The structure of the rules hasn’t been changed since 4 March 1953; some important changes, however, were introduced.
One of the reasons that affect the change in the rules has been a steady increase in the number of cases, among which the reference for a preliminary ruling are the majority. This means that the Court seeks to adapt to changes in the matters referred to the dispute.
A according to the Foundation, another reason of no less importance, is the desire to make every effort to preserve the possibility of the Court, to which more and more complaints are filed, to consider the cases within a reasonable time. New rules of procedure introduce a number of solutions to enable quick and efficient handling of cases, such as the possibility of adopting a decision aiming at limiting the number of written submissions or comments directed to the Court.
It should be noted that the new rules include numerous modifications of the oral phase of the proceedings. The Court will no longer be obliged to hold a hearing if, in the pleadings or written comments submitted by the parties consider the matter sufficiently clarified, which in turn should lead to faster resolution of issues started.
One of the purposes of the regulations is to simplify existing rules and practices. The Foundation is confident that the new legislation approved in the rules of procedure, in which minimum content of each application is specified, necessary to take preliminary decisions, will greatly simplify the task of the national courts in formulating their applications, providing better protection of private party proceedings.
The Foundation supports most of the changes in the new rules and believes that it will contribute to enable the Court to continue fulfilling its mission and to ensure that EU legislation are to be interpreted and applied in all Member States of the EU within a reasonable time, making the new laws equal for everyone. The Court of Justice is not able to cover all contentious cases, which is why it is especially important to properly promote it in the Member States and their national courts. It is mainly the active solidarity between national courts and the Court of Justice that is the guarantee of effective legal protection of people.
However, the Foundation would like to express its surprise for the lack of changes in the language regime used in proceeding. As provided in the previous set of rules, in the future, the language used in the Court will be the language of the national court (for example, if the case comes from Lithuania, the Lithuanian language will be used). Only at the properly justified request of a party in the main proceedings will be able to use another language in the oral phase of the proceedings (Article 36). As a result, a record that raises huge controversy remains unchanged; it’s controversial as it favors the state at the expense of the applicant, who is not necessarily a citizen of that country. The applicant will have to translate all the documents on his own and at his own expense. The equality of parties in the proceedings may be disrupted because less time will be left to the applicant to prepare. The Foundation believes that this provision should be changed and should provide the possibility to conduct preliminary proceedings in the languages of all the parties involved.
Please check the new procedural rules here:
The European Foundation of Human Rights