General Court (European Union)

The General Court, informally known as the European 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.

Court of Justice of the European Union
General Court
Emblem of the Court of Justice of the European Union
JurisdictionEuropean Union and Northern Ireland[lower-alpha 1]
LocationKirchberg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Authorized byTreaties of the European Union
Appeals toEuropean Court of Justice
Number of positions54 judges (2 per member state)
5 vacant
Currently Marc van der Woude
Since27 September 2019
Currently Savvas Papasavvas
Since27 September 2019
Currently Emmanuel Coulon
Since6 October 2005
Division map


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. Despite the success in its mandate,[2] it was dissolved on 1 September 2016,[3] leading to the doubling of the number of judges at the General Court.[3]


Since February 2020 the General Court is composed of 54 Judges; this follows a 2016 reform which increased the number of judges to two per member state by 2019, and the departure of the UK from the EU at the end of January 2020. The Judges are appointed for a renewable term of six years by common accord of the governments of the Member States. As of February 2020, there are 49 Judges in post: 23 member states have nominated both their judges, whilst Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia have nominated just one, and Slovenia has nominated neither.

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

Elected Term ended Judge
25 September 1989 18 September 1995 José Luís da Cruz Vilaça
18 September 1995 4 March 1998 Antonio Saggio
4 March 1998 17 September 2007 Bo Vesterdorf
17 September 2007 26 September 2019 Marc Jaeger
27 September 2019 Incumbent Marc van der Woude

List of vice-presidents

Elected Term ended Judge
17 September 2013 19 September 2016 Heikki Kanninen
20 September 2016 26 September 2019 Marc van der Woude
27 September 2019 Incumbent Savvas Papasavvas

List of judges

NameCountryElectedCurrent term ends Other
Viktor Kreuschitz Austria20132022
Gerhard Hesse Austria 2019 2022
Paul Nihoul Belgium20162022
Geert De Baere Belgium20172022
Mariyana Kancheva Bulgaria20112025[4]
Alexander Kornezov Bulgaria20162025[4] President of the Tenth Chamber
Vesna Tomljenović Croatia20132025[5] President of the Second Chamber
Tamara Perišin Croatia20192025[5]
Savvas Papasavvas Cyprus20042022 Vice-President of the General Court (2019-2022)
Anna Marcoulli Cyprus20162022 President of the Sixth Chamber
Petra Škvařilová-Pelzl Czech Republic20192025
David Petrlík Czech Republic20212025
Sten Frimodt Nielsen Denmark20072022
Jesper Svenningsen Denmark20162022 President of the Eighth Chamber
Lauri Madise Estonia20132022
Iko Nõmm Estonia2019[5]2022[5]
Heikki Kanninen Finland20092022 President of the First Chamber
Vice-President of the General Court (2013-2016)
Tuula Pynnä Finland2019[5]2022[5]
Stéphane Gervasoni France20132025[4] President of the Fourth Chamber
Laurent Truchot France2019[4]2025[4] Judge (2007-2013)
Johannes Laitenberger Germany20192025
Gabriele Steinfatt Germany20192025[5]
Dimitris Gratsias Greece20102022
Constantinos Iliopoulos Greece20162022
Barna Berke Hungary20162022
Zoltán Csehi Hungary20162022
Anthony M. Collins Ireland20132025[5] President of the Third Chamber
Colm Mac Eochaidh Ireland20172025[5]
Roberto Mastroianni Italy20192025
Ornella Porchia Italy20192025
TBA Latvia
Inga Reine Latvia20162025[4]
Rimvydas Norkus Lithuania20192025
Virgilijus Valančius Lithuania20162019*
Marc Jaeger Luxembourg19962022 President of the General Court (2007-2019)
Dean Spielmann Luxembourg20162022 President of the Fifth Chamber
Eugène Buttigieg Malta20122025
Ramona Frendo Malta20192025
Marc van der Woude Netherlands20102022 President of the General Court (2019-2022)
Vice-President of the General Court (2016-2019)
René Barents Netherlands20162022
Krystyna Kowalik-Bańczyk Poland20162022
Nina Półtorak Poland20162016*
Octavia Spineanu-Matei Romania20162022
Mirela Stancu Romania2019[4]2022[4]
Ricardo Da Silva Passos Portugal20162022 President of the Seventh Chamber
Maria José Costeira Portugal20162022 President of the Ninth Chamber
Juraj Schwarcz Slovakia20092022
TBA Slovakia
TBA Slovenia
TBA Slovenia
José Martín y Pérez de Nanclares Spain20192025
Miguel Sampol Pucurull Spain20192025
Ulf Christophe Öberg Sweden20162025[4]
Fredrik Schalin Sweden20162025[4]

* Judge continues to hold the office until their successor takes up the duties according to the Article 5(3) of the Protocol No. 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the EU

List of former judges

NameCountryElectedTerm endedRef.
Josef Azizi Austria 19 January 1995 16 September 2013 [6]
Koen Lenaerts Belgium 25 September 1989 6 October 2003 [7]
Franklin Dehousse Belgium 6 October 2003 19 September 2016 [7]
Teodor Tchipev Bulgaria12 January 200729 June 2010[8]
Irena Pelikánová Czech Republic 12 May 2004 26 September 2019 [7]
Jan M. Passer Czech Republic 19 September 2016 6 October 2020 [9]
Bo Versterdorf Denmark 25 September 1989 17 September 2007 [7]
Küllike Jürimäe Estonia 12 May 2004 23 October 2013 [7]
Virpi Tiili Finland8 January 19956 October 2009[7]
Jacques Biancarelli France 25 September 1989 18 September 1995 [7]
André Potocki France 18 September 1995 19 September 2001 [7]
Hubert Legal France 19 September 2001 17 September 2007 [7]
Heinrich Kirschner Germany 25 September 1989 6 February 1997 [7]
Jörg Pirrung Germany 11 June 1997 17 September 2007 [7]
Alfred Dittrich Germany 17 September 2007 26 September 2019 [7]
Christos G. Yeraris Greece 25 September 1989 18 September 1992 [7]
Andreas Kalogerpoulos Greece 18 September 1992 17 September 1998 [7]
Michail Vilaras Greece 17 September 1998 25 October 2010 [7]
Ottó Czúcz Hungary 12 May 2004 19 September 2016 [7]
Donal Patrick Michael Barrington Ireland 25 September 1989 10 January 1996 [7]
John D. Cooke Ireland 10 January 1996 15 September 2008 [7]
Kevin O'Higgins Ireland 15 September 2008 16 September 2013 [7]
Antonio Saggio Italy 25 September 1989 4 March 1998 [7]
Paolo Mengozzi Italy 4 March 1998 3 May 2006 [7]
Enzo Moavero Milanesi Italy 3 May 2006 15 November 2011 [7]
Guido Berardis Italy 17 September 2012 31 August 2019 [7]
Ezio Perillo Italy 19 September 2016 26 September 2019 [7]
Ingrida Labucka Latvia 12 May 2004 25 February 2020
Vilenas Vadapalas Lithuania 12 May 2004 16 September 2013 [7]
Egidijus Bieliūnas Lithuania 16 September 2013 26 September 2019 [7]
Romain Schintgen Luxembourg 25 September 1989 11 July 1996 [7]
Ena Cremona Malta12 May 200422 March 2012[8]
Peter George Xuereb Malta 6 June 2016 8 October 2018 [7]
Cornelis Paulus Briët Netherlands 25 September 1989 17 September 1998 [7]
Arjen Meij Netherlands17 September 199813 September 2010[8]
Irena Wiszniewska-Bialecka Poland 15 May 2004 19 September 2016 [6]
Nina Półtorak Poland 13 April 2016 31 August 2016 [6]
José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça Portugal 25 September 1989 18 September 1995 [6]
Rui Manuel Gens De Moura Ramos Portugal 19 September 1995 31 March 2003 [6]
Maria Eguénia Martins De Nazaré Ribeiro Portugal 31 March 2003 19 September 2016 [6]
Valeriu M. Ciuca Romania12 January 200726 November 2010[8]
Andrei Popescu Romania 26 November 2010 19 September 2016 [6]
Daniel Šváby Slovakia21 May 20046 October 2010[8]
Verica Trstenjak Slovenia 7 July 2004 6 October 2006 [6]
Miro Prek Slovenia 6 October 2006 26 September 2019 [6]
Rafael Garcia-Valdecasas Y Fernández Spain 25 September 1989 17 September 2007 [7]
Santiago Soldevila Fragoso Spain 17 September 2007 16 September 2013 [7]
Ignacio Ulloa Rubio Spain 16 September 2013 26 September 2019 [7]
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Ibáñez-Martín Spain 13 April 2016 26 September 2019 [7]
Pernilla Lindh Sweden 18 January 1995 6 October 2006 [6]
Nils Wahl Sweden 6 October 2006 28 November 2012 [6]
Carl Wetter Sweden 18 March 2013 19 September 2016 [6]
Former Member State
David A. O. Edward United Kingdom 25 September 1989 10 March 1992 [6]
Christopher William Bellamy United Kingdom 10 March 1992 15 December 1999 [6]
Nicholas James Forwood United Kingdom 15 December 1999 7 October 2015 [6]
Ian Stewart Forrester United Kingdom 1 October 2015 31 January 2020

List of registrars

Elected Term ended Judge
27 September 1989 6 October 2005 Hans Jung
6 October 2005 Incumbent (until at least 5 October 2023) Emmanuel Coulon


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.[10]

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.


  1. Under the terms of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, concluded as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the CJEU — and hence the EGC — continues to have jurisdiction over the operation of EU law applying to Northern Ireland in relation to customs and the movement of goods, technical regulations, VAT and excise, the Single Electricity Market and State aid, and may hear applications for preliminary rulings made by Northern Irish courts.[1]


  1. House of Lords European Union Committee (1 June 2020). 9th Report of Session 2019–21: The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (Report). House of Lords. p. 65. Retrieved 2 January 2021. The Protocol will also confer full jurisdiction on the CJEU to oversee the operation of EU law applying to Northern Ireland in relation to customs and the movement of goods, technical regulations, VAT and excise, the Single Electricity Market and State aid; including the jurisdiction to hear applications for preliminary rulings submitted by the courts of Northern Ireland. The UK will have the right to participate in these proceedings as if it were a Member State.
  2. Butler, Graham (2019). "An Interim Post-Mortem: Specialised Courts in the EU Judicial Architecture after the Civil Service Tribunal". International Organizations Law Review. 16. doi:10.1163/15723747-2019010.
  3. "REGULATION (EU, Euratom) 2016/1192 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 6 July 2016 on the transfer to the General Court of jurisdiction at first instance in disputes between the European Union and its servants". Official Journal of the European Union. 200/138. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  4. "Court of Justice of the European Union: Eleven members appointed".
  5. "Member states' representatives appoint 14 judges to the General Court".
  6. "CURIA – Mandati od leta 1989 – Sodišče Evropske unije". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  7. "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  8. "CURIA – Former Members". CVRIA. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  9. "EU Court of Justice: three judges and an advocate-general appointed". (in Slovenian). Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  10. Mattila, Heikki E. S. (2006). Comparative legal linguistics – Heikki E. S. Mattila – Google Boeken. ISBN 9780754648741. Retrieved 27 January 2012.

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