Euro Court May Open UK Branches

Article excerpt

LONDON and Edinburgh could have their own mini European Courts of Justice under decentralisation plans aimed at easing the growing congestion and delay of cases being heard in Luxembourg.

The proposed break-up of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is part of a radical programme of reform which would mark the biggest shake-up since its foundation in1952. An ECJ's 33-page report argues that national courts of the ECJ sited in each member state would have the advantage of operating in the language of that country - helping to reduce the delay caused by the huge translation costs.

They would also be "closer" than the European Court of Justice to the national legal system in which the cases were referred. The mounting costs and delay in hearing more and more Community cases has placed enormous pressure on the ECJ. This has not been helped by some countries, notably Italy, the Netherlands and Greece, bringing "barmy" cases which have not been properly prepared. This said, Nicholas Green QC, chairman of the Bar European Group, had led senior ECJ judges to conclude that it would be better for member states to hear more of their own cases. One of the court's proposals for immediate change is a "clarification" procedure whereby the ECJ can ask the domestic court to make it clearer what is asking. In a stark warning about the court's future ability to deal with its increasing case-load, ECJ president, Gil Carlos Rodrguez Iglesias, said that "recent institutional developments risk further worsening the current state of the community system of law". …