The European Court of Justice (ECJ), officially just the Court of Justice, is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union it is tasked with interpreting EU law and ensuring its equal application across all EU member states. The Court was established in 1952 and is based in Luxembourg. It is composed of one judge per member state.
The function of the ECJ is stated in Article 220 Treaty of Rome; the court must "ensure that in the interpretation and application of the Treaty the law is observed". Provides the judicial safeguards necessary to ensure that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties and all of the activities of the Union. The ECJ Interprets the common regulatory framework and settles disputes on the application of Community law. It can settle disputes between Member States, between EU institutions and Member States, between different EU institutions and between EU institutions and companies or individuals. One of the very important tasks of the Court is to submit advance notification of interpretation of Community law which it does pursuant to Article 234. The court sits in chambers of 3 or 5 judges (7 or more for particularly important cases). Submissions are made in writing. The court gives a single judgment (no dissenting judgments as in the ELS).
There are 25 Judges (one who is the President) and 8 Advocates-General.
It may sit as a full Court, in a Grand Chamber (11 Judges) or in chambers of three or five Judges. It sits in a Grand Chamber when a Member State or a Community institution that is a party to the proceedings so requests, or in particularly complex or important cases. The quorum for the full Court is 15. They are appointed under Article 222 of the Treaty of Rome from those who are eligible for appointment to the highest judicial posts in their own country or who are leading academic lawyers. Each judge is appointed for a term of six years, and can be re-appointed for the same period.
The Court is assisted by eight Advocates General who also hold office for six years. Each case is assigned to an Advocate General whose task under Article 223 is to research all the legal points involved and 'to present publicly, with complete impartiality and independence, reasoned conclusions on cases submitted to the Court of Justice with a view to assisting the latter in the performance of its duties’.
These rulings are very important and are usually followed by the full court.
The procedure is laid down in Article 267, ‘Where such a question is raised before any court or tribunal of a Member State’
B. Discuss the relationship of the European Court of Justice with the UK Courts.
The European Court of Justice acts only as a supreme court for the interpretation of European Union law. Consequently, there is no right to appeal at any stage in UK court proceedings to the ECJ. However, any court in the UK may refer a particular point of law relating to European Union law to the ECJ for determination. However, once the ECJ has given its interpretation, the case is referred back to the court that referred it.
Courts in England and Wales are not bound to follow a decision of the ECHR,