Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Judicial expansion on the cards as the ECJ is sued for delays

The length of time the EU courts can take before they give their rulings can be long – so long that they can even run into years - so now disgruntled litigants are suing the court itself for the delays. Famously the Italian justice system was so slow that the European Court of Human Rights found that, in the case of Ferrari v Italy (1999), that there were some 1,400 similar cases before the court concerning court delays.

The action against the EU courts will be embarrassing, though thankfully not to the same extent as Ferrari. Although the time taken for cases to be heard and receive judgment can be extraordinary – there’s a case involving Rubik’s Brand Limited dating from 2006 that’s still ongoing – the courts have been asking for more judges to help them deal with their workload for some time now. For a long time Member States couldn’t come to an agreement on the extra judges. The courts had only asked for another 12, but in a Union of 28 Member States it became hard to decide “whose” judges these would be.

In the end the Member States decided to come up with a new round of 28 judges to make sure that national representation in the courts remained equal. They won’t all have arrived until 2019, but they should be more than enough to whittle down the judicial backlog. But the question now is how much will all of the delays to date cost the EU in compensation pay outs…?

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