ECJ to empower sole judges

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will allow judges sitting alone to decide certain cases, instead of the present panel of three to five.

The move is the result of an increase in workload for the Luxembourg-based court. This has been caused by intellectual property rights litigation and the application of the 1993 regulation on the EU trademark.

The change will apply to the ECJ's Court of First Instance, which was itself set up as an independent sister court to relieve pressure on the main court of justice.

Single judge hearings will be permitted for cases including those concerning officials of the European Union and direct actions concerning non-contractual liability of EU institutions.

Cases that focus on competition, trusts, state aid and anti-dumping duties are still to be heard by a college of judges.

Procedures for the main ECJ will remain unchanged.