ECJ and Court of First Instance suffer serious backlog of cases

The caseload of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has increased by more than 17 per cent in the last year.
According to the institution’s 2003 annual report, there were 561 new cases brought to the ECJ last year and 466 to its sister court, the Court of First Instance. This is compared with 477 being brought to the ECJ in 2002 and 411 to the Court of First Instance.

The report also raised the spectre of a mounting backlog of cases. It found that the courts are not sufficiently speeding up their delivery of rulings, with the number of cases brought to a close actually down on last year. In 2003, the ECJ concluded 494 cases, down from 513 in 2002, while the Court of First Instance ruled on 339, slightly up on the previous year’s 331.

The news comes as the court prepares for another boost in workload because of May’s accession to the EU by 10 new member countries. This will lead to the court taking on between 650 and 700 new staff, mostly translators dealing with an increase of language combinations, from 110 to 380.