EU supreme courts come under ECJ

An Austrian professor is creating a new legal right for EU citizens, allowing them to sue their national supreme court for damages if its rulings break EU law.

Gerhard Köbler, a professor of the history of law at the University of Innsbruck, asked the Austrian courts to reverse a refusal by his national authorities to grant a special length-of-service salary increment after he had 15 years of experience. This was rejected as some of his work was in his native Germany, and Austrian regulations insist that all 15 years be spent in Austria.

He claimed in Austria’s supreme administrative court that this rule broke EU freedom of movement of workers laws. It, too, threw out his case, but he was later backed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and now ECJ advocate general Philippe Léger has proposed he be compensated for “loss or damage caused by a breach of EU law by a supreme court”.