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Recourse to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is increasing dramatically, the European Commission has confirmed.Complaints by citizens rose 18 per cent to 1,128 in 1998 and cases broughtby commission departments soared by more than half from 261 to 396 says thecommission's annual report.And the pace has picked up even more since then, says the commission.Lawyers involved in taking cases to the ECJ are concerned that the courtis becoming overstretched.Freshfields partner Paul Lomas, head of EC/competition, says: "They havebeen looking hard at ways of changing it. The judges have reactedresponsibly but the court will become discredited if the delays are toolong."Stephen Kinsella, managing partner of Herbert Smith's Brussels office,adds that the introduction of the Court of First Instance some years ago tohive off less important cases has not helped much because those losing haveappealed to the ECJ, meaning many cases are heard twice.Suggested improvements include a conciliation procedure in Luxembourg, acrackdown on extensions and a move towards many cases being heard by asingle judge, he adds.
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