The Treaty of Nice had provided in 2003 for the possibility of establishing specialised courts at EU level, and the Council of the European Union thus decided, on 2 November 2004, to establish the Civil Service Tribunal. Its task, which until then had been performed by the General Court of the European Union, was to determine disputes between the European Union and EU staff. In 2015, in view of the increase in litigation and the excessive length of proceedings in cases being dealt with in the General Court, the EU legislature decided to gradually increase the number of Judges at the General Court to 56 and to transfer to it the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Tribunal, which was dissolved on 1 September 2016.

The Civil Service Tribunal was composed of seven Judges appointed by the Council for a renewable period of six years, following a call for applications and after consulting a committee established for that purpose. When appointing the Judges, the Council ensured a balanced composition of the Civil Service Tribunal on as broad a geographical basis and as broad a representation of the national legal systems as possible. The Judges of the Civil Service Tribunal elected their President from among their number for a term of three years, which could be renewed. It sat in Chambers of three Judges or, whenever the difficulty or importance of the questions of law warranted it, as a full court. The Judges appointed a Registrar for a term of six years.

The Civil Service Tribunal had jurisdiction to hear and determine at first instance European civil service disputes, which represented around 150 cases a year for a staff of approximately 40 000 individuals in all the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union. The disputes dealt with by the Civil Service Tribunal concerned not only issues relating to employment relations as such (remuneration, career development, recruitment, disciplinary measures, etc.), but also the rules on social security benefits (sickness, retirement, invalidity, accidents at work, family allowances, etc.). It also had jurisdiction over disputes concerning particular staff, notably the staff of Eurojust, Europol, the European Central Bank, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the European External Action Service. Appeals, limited to points of law, could be brought before the General Court against decisions of the Civil Service Tribunal within a period of two months, and decisions delivered by the General Court on appeal could, in turn, be reviewed by the Court of Justice in exceptional circumstances.

Over the period of its existence, the Civil Service Tribunal welcomed a total of 14 Judges from 14 different Member States and a Registrar of German nationality, and delivered 1549 judgments.