Court of Justice of the European Union -- Increase in efficiency? Let’s wait and see!

If you have ever had to take your case from the EUIPO to the General Court or even to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), it might have taken you a while to get a decision. Thus, among other reasons, the European Union decided to slightly amend the judicial structure of the Court of Justice to make the system more efficient.

  1. Background

Some time ago, the Court of Justice and the General Court reviewed the effectiveness of their work -- also in intellectual property (IP) cases. They found that many appeals filed with the CJEU were dismissed on the ground of evident inadmissibility or because they were evidently unfounded. That came as no surprise as many appeals were brought in cases which had already been considered twice. Before reaching the Court of Justice, they had already been reviewed and decided by an independent board of appeal and then by the General Court. Thus, changes in the judicial structure of the court system were deemed necessary.


  1. New appeal requirements

Regarding intellectual property cases, one of the measures taken to make the Courts more efficient took effect on 1 May 2019. To avoid the unnecessary work involved with cases that are obviously inadmissible or unfounded, an allowance stage was newly introduced. As of 1 May 2019, any appeal in IP cases must be accompanied by a request asking that the appeal be allowed to proceed. The request must not exceed seven (7) pages and clearly state the reasons why the appeal should be decided by the Court of Justice. The appeal will only be allowed if it is significant with respect to the unity, consistency or development of EU law. Without such request, the appeal will be automatically declared inadmissible.

The request will be decided upon based on a proposal from the Judge-Rapporteur and after hearing the Advocate General. The ruling will then be published on the Court’s website with reasons on whether or not the appeal is allowed to proceed.

The introduction of an allowance stage for IP cases will most likely reduce the number of IP cases that the Court of Justice has to deal with. But to not be rejected for formal reasons when filing an appeal with the CJEU, be sure to not just file your grounds of appeal, but to also include a separate letter of no more than seven (7) pages to get your appeal allowed first!


  1. Specialized IP chambers and increase in number of judges at the General Court

Another important change to make the European Courts more efficient is the increase in the number of judges at the General Court up to a total of 53 judges by 26 September 2019. The increase is accompanied by changes to the system for allocating cases to the Chambers. Out of the ten Chambers of the General Court, six Chambers will specialize in intellectual property matters -- with IP cases having made up about 40 per cent of the court’s cases in 2018. The cases will be allocated on a rotational system, but as regards IP cases, only the Fifth through Tenth Chamber will be involved. In very special circumstances, the rotational system may be circumvented by the President of the General Court in order to take account of a connection between cases. That can apply for instance in cases with the same or legally similar subject matters or with a view to ensuring an even spread of the workload. Let’s wait and see whether the increase in judges will speed up the time that the General Court needs to decide IP cases!

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