The European Union Civil Service Tribunal is composed of seven Judges appointed by the Council for a period of six years which may be renewed, following a call for applications and after taking the opinion of a panel of seven persons chosen from among former members of the Court of Justice and the General Court and lawyers of recognised competence.
When appointing the Judges, the Council ensures a balanced composition of the Tribunal on as broad a geographical basis as possible from among nationals of the Member States and with respect to the national legal systems represented.
The Judges of the Tribunal elect their President from among their number for a term of three years which may be renewed.
The Tribunal sits in Chambers of three Judges. However, whenever the difficulty or importance of the questions of law raised justifies it, a case may be referred to the full court. Furthermore, in cases determined by its Rules of Procedure, it may sit in a Chamber of five Judges or as a single Judge.
The Judges appoint a Registrar for a term of six years.
The Tribunal has its own Registry, but makes use of the services of the Court of Justice for its other administrative and linguistic needs.
Since 2012, the Civil Service Tribunal has been able to avail itself of the assistance of a temporary Judge in order to cover the absence of a Judge who, while not suffering from total disablement, is prevented, on medical grounds, from participating in the disposal of cases for a period of at least three months.
A list of three temporary Judges is drawn up by the Council on a proposal from the President of the Court of Justice. Those three Judges are chosen from among former Members of the Court of Justice, the General Court or the Civil Service Tribunal.
Within the European Union's judicial institution, it is the Civil Service Tribunal whose special field is disputes involving the European Union civil service, this jurisdiction having previously been exercised by the Court of Justice and then, following its creation in 1989, by the Court of First Instance.
It has jurisdiction to hear and determine at first instance disputes between the European Union and its servants pursuant to Article 270 TFEU, which as a result represents some 120 cases a year for approximately 35 000 members of the staff of the European Union's institutions. These disputes concern not only questions to do with working relations in the strict sense (pay, career progress, recruitment, disciplinary measures etc.), but also the social security system (sickness, old age, invalidity, accidents at work, family allowances etc.).
It also has jurisdiction in disputes between all bodies or agencies and their staff in respect of which jurisdiction is conferred on the Court of Justice of the European Union (for example, disputes between Europol, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) or the European Investment Bank and their staff).
On the other hand, it may not hear and determine cases between national administrations and their employees.
The decisions given by the Tribunal may, within two months, be subject to an appeal, limited to questions of law, to the General Court.
The procedure before the Civil Service Tribunal is governed by the provisions of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, in particular those contained in Annex I thereto and by the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure, which entered into force on 1 November 2007.
As a rule, the proceedings include a written phase and an oral phase.
The written phase
An application, drawn up by a lawyer and sent to the Registry, opens the proceedings. The Registrar sends the application to the opposing party. The latter has a period of two months to file a defence.
The Tribunal may decide that a second exchange of pleadings is necessary.
Any person who can prove an interest in the outcome of a case before the Tribunal, as well as the Member States and the institutions of the European Union, may intervene in the proceedings. The intervener files a statement in intervention, supporting or opposing the claims of one of the parties, to which the latter may then respond. The intervener may also submit his observations at the oral phase.
The oral phase
During the oral phase a public hearing is usually held. During the hearing, the Judges can put questions to the parties' representatives and, where appropriate, to the parties themselves. The Judge-Rapporteur draws up a preliminary report for the hearing, containing the essential points in the case and indicating the points on which the parties are to focus their arguments. This document is available to the public in the language of the case.
The Judges deliberate on the basis of draft grounds prepared by the Judge-Rapporteur. The judgment is delivered at a public hearing.
The procedure before the Tribunal is free of court fees. On the other hand, the costs of the lawyer entitled to appear before a court in a Member State, by whom the parties must be represented, are not paid by the Tribunal. A party who is not able to meet the costs of the case may, however, apply for legal aid.
Amicable settlement of disputes
At all stages of the procedure, including the time when the application is filed, the Tribunal may try to facilitate an amicable settlement of the dispute.
Proceedings for interim measures
Bringing an action before the Tribunal does not cause the operation of the contested act to be suspended. The Tribunal may, however, order suspension of the act or other interim measures.
The President of the Tribunal or, in some circumstances, another Judge rules on the application for interim measures by way of reasoned order.
Interim measures are granted only if three conditions are met:
1. the action in the main proceedings must appear, at first sight, to be well founded;
2. the applicant must establish the urgency of the measures in the absence of which he would suffer serious and irreparable harm;
3. the interim measures must take account of the weighing up of the parties' interests and the public interest.
The order is provisional in nature and in no way prejudges the decision of the Tribunal in the main proceedings. In addition, an appeal against it may be brought before the General Court.
The language used for the application, which may be one of the 24 official languages of the European Union, will be the language of the case.
The proceedings in the oral phase of the procedure are simultaneously interpreted, as necessary, into various official languages of the European Union. The judges deliberate without interpreters in a common language, French.
Flowchart of procedure
Procedure before the Civil Service Tribunal
At all stages of the procedure the Tribunal may try to reach an amicable settlement of the dispute between the parties.
Service of the application on the defendant by the Registry
Notice of the action in the Official Journal of the European Union (Series C)
(Official publication of the subject-matter of the application and the forms of order sought, available in all languages approximately six weeks from the day on which the action is brought before the Civil Service Tribunal)*
[objection of inadmissibility]
[Reply and rejoinder]
The Judge-Rapporteur prepares the preliminary report
[Measures of organisation of procedure or measures of inquiry]
[Application for legal aid]
Allocation of the case to a Chamber and designation of the Judge-Rapporteur
Preparatory report for the hearing
(Document drawn up by the Judge-Rapporteur containing the essential elements of the case and indicating, where appropriate, the points on which the parties are to focus their arguments)**
Judgment* or order* (in the case of an order, there is never an oral phase)
The optional stages of the procedure are shown in brackets.
* These documents are available on the Internet: the CURIA website and the EUR-Lex database (via www.europa.eu).
** These documents are to be found in display racks by the courtroom or may be obtained, on request, from the Press and Information Service of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Other documents are not public.