The General Court has proposed to the Council, pursuant to Article 254 TFEU, new Rules of Procedure for adoption. You can access the proposal here.
The new rules are a substantial update and seek to modernise and improve the way the ever increasing number of cases is dealt with see our post on statistics for 2013).
The draft is especially worth reading for its commentaries. There is, in the first place, a general commentary setting out the overall aims of the changes. For example one can read that measures proposed to cope better with the increasing workload include:
- extending the scope of application of provisions relating to a single Judge;
- simplification of the rules relating to the determination of the language of the case and the removal of the second round of pleadings in intellectual property cases;
- the setting of shorter legal time-limits than those currently prescribed for the submission of applications to intervene and requests for hearings;
- simplification of the rules on intervention by the removal, as a category of intervention, of those which may be admitted after expiry of the legal time-limit of six weeks following publication of the notice in the Official Journal of the European Union provided for in Article 24(6) of the existing Rules of Procedure;
- provision for the General Court to be able to rule without an oral part of the procedure in direct actions if none of the main parties has requested a hearing and if it considers that it has sufficient information available to it from the material in the file, and to be able to rule without an oral part of the procedure in appeals;
- clarification of the rights conferred on interveners;
- the transfer of certain decision-making powers of the Chamber to the Presidents of Chambers, the general rule being that the President of the Chamber exercises his powers after hearing the Judge-Rapporteur;
- an increase in the number of circumstances in which a ruling is to be given by means of a simple decision, in particular grant of leave to intervene where applied for by Member States and institutions if there is no application for confidential treatment; and simplification of the default procedure.
What is especially valuable – and commendable that the General Court has taking the trouble to provide them – are the commentaries on particular changes proposed. They are a treasure trove of information. Under the section on preliminary objections on admissibility, for example, it is stated :
While it cannot be ruled out altogether that an action may be dismissed as inadmissible after it has been decided to reserve the decision on the plea of inadmissibility or of lack of competence until the General Court’s ruling on the substance of the case, it should be pointed out that such cases are rare. Thus, in the cases completed in the period from 2008 to 2012: 321 objections of inadmissibility or of lack of competence were submitted (in 302 cases); 185 objections were upheld by means of an order (in 179 cases); 53 objections (in 49 cases) were closed following a declaration that there was no need to adjudicate or discontinuance; a decision on 83 objections was reserved until the ruling on the substance of the case (in 74 cases). The General Court dismissed the action as inadmissible by judgment, after reserving its decision on the objection until its ruling on the substance of the case, in only 10 cases.
Those commentaries do reward reading !