Decisions of the ECJ apply in all EU member states, and at all levels of the national court system. It is, if you will, the European-law “Supreme Court”.
Relevant ECJ decisions can be referred to in cover letters to government agencies (e.g. the UKBA in Great Britain), can be used in appeals, or as part of taking a government agency to court or small claims court.
It is often educational to read all three parts of decision:
- The Advocate General’s “Opinion” – an early non-binding written submission to the court, which recommends an approach for the court to use in deciding a case
- The full decision, which lays out situation, the law relevant to the decision (European treaties, Directives, Regulations and Case law).
- And the “Operative” part of the Decision, which is the “ruling” or “judgement” part of the decision. This is the “important bit” of the decision. It is located at the end of the full decision, and is usually also available on its own.
Easy Access to Case Law
Easy-to-use English language access to ECJ case law is through the UK’s Balli website (for which core funding has been cut and whose future is unclear):
- Bailii – Case law from European court of Justice (including Court of First Instance)
- Bailii – Case law from UK, Ireland, and European Court of Justice
Official European source for ECJ case law
More traditional access to ECJ cases (since June 1997) is available from http://curia.europa.eu/. You can search on the name of one of the parties (e.g. MRAX) or by the case number (e.g. C-459/99). Most of the judgements can be read in several European languages.
Decisions of the ECJ before June 1997 can be found using http://eur-lex.europa.eu