General Court (European Union)

The General Court (EGC) is a constituent court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It hears actions taken against the institutions of the European Union by individuals and member states, although certain matters are reserved for the European Court of Justice. Decisions of the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice, but only on a point of law. Prior to the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance.

General Court
LocationKirchberg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
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The General Court hears disputes (such as those by persons who have been refused a trade mark by EUIPO, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry).

The creation of the General Court instituted a judicial system based on two levels of jurisdiction: all cases heard at first instance by the General Court may be subject to a right of appeal to the Court of Justice on points of law only.

In view of the increasing number of cases brought before the General Court in the last five years, to relieve it of some of the caseload, the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003, provides for the creation of 'judicial panels' in certain specific areas.

On 2 November 2004 the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. This new specialised tribunal, composed of seven judges, heard and determined at first instance disputes involving the European Civil Service. Its decisions were subject to a right of appeal before the General Court on points of law only. Decisions given by the General Court in this area might exceptionally be subject to review by the Court of Justice. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal was duly constituted into law on 2 December 2005. It was dissolved on 1 September 2016,[1] leading to the doubling of the number of judges at the General Court.[1] despite the success in its mandate,[2]


As of March 2019 the General Court is composed of 46 judges. In 2016 a reform was enacted that aims to increase the number of judges to 56 by 2019. The Judges are appointed for a renewable term of six years by common accord of the governments of the Member States.

The Members of the General Court elect their president and the presidents of the Chambers of five Judges from among their number for a renewable period of three years.

There are no permanent Advocates General attached to the General Court (unlike the European Court of Justice, which has eleven Advocates General). However, the task of an Advocate General may be performed in a limited number of cases by a Judge nominated to do so. In practice this has been done occasionally.

List of Presidents

1989–1995 José Luís da Cruz Vilaça
1995–1998 Antonio Saggio
1998–2007 Bo Vesterdorf
2007–2019 Marc Jaeger
2019-present Marc van der Woude


NameCountryElectedCurrent Term Ends
Viktor Kreuschitz Austria20132022
TBA Austria
Paul Nihoul Belgium20162022
Geert De Baere Belgium20172022
Mariyana Kancheva Bulgaria20112025[3]
Alexander Kornezov Bulgaria20162025[3]
Vesna Tomljenović Croatia20132025[4]
Tamara Perišin Croatia20192025[4]
Savvas Papasavvas (Vice-President) Cyprus20042022
Anna Marcoulli Cyprus20162022
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic20042019
Jan M. Passer Czech Republic20162025[4]
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark20072022
Jesper Svenningsen Denmark20162022
Lauri Madise Estonia20132022
Iko Nõmm Estonia2019[4]2022[4]
Heikki Kanninen Finland20092022
Tuula Pynnä Finland2019[4]2022[4]
Emmanuel Coulon (Registrar) France20052023
Stéphane Gervasoni France20132025[3]
Laurent Truchot France2019[3]2025[3]
Alfred Dittrich Germany20072019
Gabriele Steinfatt Germany20192025[4]
Dimitrios Gratsias Greece20102022
Constantinos Iliopoulos Greece20162022
Barna Berke Hungary20162022
Zoltán Csehi Hungary20162022
Anthony Michael Collins Ireland20132025[4]
Colm Mac Eochaidh Ireland20172025 [4]
Guido Berardis Italy20122019
Ezio Perillo Italy20162019
Ingrida Labucka Latvia20042019
Inga Reine Latvia20162025[3]
Egidijus Bieliūnas Lithuania20132019
Virgilijus Valančius Lithuania20162019
Marc Jaeger Luxembourg19962022
Dean Spielmann Luxembourg20162022
Eugène Buttigieg Malta20122025
Ramona Frendo Malta20192025
Marc van der Woude (President) Netherlands20102022
René Barents Netherlands20162022
Krystyna Kowalik-Bańczyk Poland20162022
Nina Półtorak Poland20162016
Octavia Spineanu-Matei Romania20162022
Mirela Stancu Romania2019[3]2022[3]
Maria José Costeira Portugal20162022
Ricardo Da Silva Passos Portugal20162022
Juraj Schwarcz Slovakia20092022
TBA Slovakia
Miro Prek Slovenia20062019
TBA Slovenia
Ignacio Ulloa Rubio Spain20132019
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Ibáñez-Martín Spain20162019
Ulf Christophe Öberg Sweden20162025[3]
Fredrik Schalin Sweden20162025[3]
Ian Stewart Forrester United Kingdom20152019
TBA United Kingdom

Former Judges (incomplete list)

NameCountryElectedTerm EndedRef.
Virpi Tiili Finland8 January 19956 October 2009[5]
Arjen Meij Netherlands17 September 199813 September 2010[6]
Ena Cremona Malta12 May 200422 March 2010[6]
Daniel Šváby Slovakia20042010[6]
Teodor Tchipev Bulgaria12 January 200729 June 2010[6]
Valeriu M. Ciuca Romania12 January 200726 November 2010[6]
Verica Trstenjak Slovenia


The General Court, like the Court of Justice, has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties of the European Union and the provisions adopted by the competent Union institutions.

To fulfil its main task, the General Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine at first instance all direct actions brought by individuals and the Member States, with the exception of those to be assigned to a 'judicial panel' and those reserved for the Court of Justice.

Categories of direct actions

  • Actions for annulment

(against acts of the Union institutions)

  • Actions for failure to act

(against inaction by the Union institutions)

  • Actions for damages

(for the reparation of damage caused by unlawful conduct on the part of a Union institution)

  • Actions based on an arbitration clause

(disputes concerning contracts in public or private law entered into by the Union, containing such a clause)

  • Actions concerning the civil service – As of 2006 these cases were transferred to the new Civil Service Tribunal

(disputes between the Union and its officials and other servants)

Subject-matter of direct actions: all matters, including:

  • agriculture
  • State aid
  • competition
  • commercial policy
  • regional policy
  • social policy
  • institutional law
  • trade mark and design right law
  • transport


The General Court has its own Rules of Procedure. As a rule, the Court's procedure includes a written phase and an oral phase. The proceedings are conducted in a language at the petitioner's choosing. As in the European Court of Justice, the working language of the Court is nevertheless French, and this includes the language the judges deliberate in and the drafting language of preliminary reports and judgments.[7]

The Court is separated into 9 divisions (called ‘chambers’) sat by 3-judge benches, except for the 7th division whose bench is sat by 4 judges. Each chamber has an extended composition of 5 judges. Cases are assigned by the President of the Court to a relevant divisional presiding judge. The presiding judge assigned to the case then chooses a judge-reporter (judge-rapporteur) from the judges of the division, whose clerks write a preliminary report (rapport préalable) based on the parties' pleadings and applicable law.

At the close of the written phase and, as the case may be, on adoption of measures of inquiry, the case is argued orally in open court. The proceedings are interpreted simultaneously, if necessary, into various official languages of the European Union. The judges then deliberate based on a draft judgment prepared by the judge-reporter. The Court's final judgment is handed down in open court.


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