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 brought
by commission departments soared by more than half from 261 to 396 says the
commission'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 court
is becoming overstretched.
Freshfields partner Paul Lomas, head of EC/competition, says: “They have
been looking hard at ways of changing it. The judges have reacted
responsibly but the court will become discredited if the delays are too
Stephen Kinsella, managing partner of Herbert Smith's Brussels office,
adds that the introduction of the Court of First Instance some years ago to
hive off less important cases has not helped much because those losing have
appealed to the ECJ, meaning many cases are heard twice.
Suggested improvements include a conciliation procedure in Luxembourg, a
crackdown on extensions and a move towards many cases being heard by a
single judge, he adds.