Language of document : ECLI:EU:F:2013:67

ORDER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CIVIL SERVICE TRIBUNAL

Third Chamber)

30 May 2013

Case F‑102/11

Luigi Marcuccio

v

European Commission

(Civil service — Article 34(1) and (6) of the Rules of Procedure — Application submitted by fax within the prescribed period — Handwritten signature of the lawyer different from that on the original of the application sent by post — Action lodged out of time — Manifest inadmissibility)

Application:      under Article 270 TFEU, applicable to the EAEC Treaty pursuant to Article 106a thereof, in which Mr Marcuccio seeks, in essence, annulment of the decision of 22 December 2010 by which the European Commission rejected his claim for payment of travel expenses for the period 2005 to 2010, under Article 8 of Annex VII to the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union (‘the Staff Regulations’). Before the original application was lodged by post, a document purported to be a copy of the original application was sent on 10 October 2012 by fax.

Held:      The action is dismissed as manifestly inadmissible. Mr Marcuccio is to bear his own costs and is ordered to pay the costs incurred by the Commission.

Summary

1.      Judicial proceedings — Application initiating proceedings — Formal requirements — Handwritten signature of a lawyer — Substantive rule of strict application — Absence — Inadmissibility

(Statute of the Court of Justice, Arts 19, third para., and 21, first para., and Annex I, Art. 7(1); Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, Art. 34(1))

2.      Judicial proceedings — Application initiating proceedings — Formal requirements — Application submitted by fax within the prescribed period — Handwritten signature of the lawyer different from that on the original of the application sent by post — Consequence — Failure to take the date of receipt of the fax into account in order to determine compliance with the period prescribed for bringing an action

(Statute of the Court of Justice, Art. 45, first para.; Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, Art. 34(1) and (6); Staff Regulations, Art. 91(3))

1.      It follows from the third paragraph of Article 19 and the first paragraph of Article 21 of the Statute of the Court of Justice that every applicant must be represented by a person authorised for that purpose and that, consequently, an action may be validly brought before the Courts of the European Union only if that person signs the application. Under Article 7(1) of Annex I to the Statute of the Court of Justice, those provisions are also applicable to the procedure before the Civil Service Tribunal. No derogation from or exception to that obligation is provided for in the Statute of the Court of Justice or the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal.

It is therefore by reason of the fundamental importance of the role of the lawyer as an officer of the court in judicial proceedings before the Tribunal that Article 34(1) of the Rules of Procedure provides that the original of every pleading must be signed by the party’s representative. By appending his signature, the latter assumes responsibility for the execution and content of the application and fulfils the essential role conferred on him by the Statute of the Court of Justice and the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, in enabling, through his ministry, the applicant to have access to the Tribunal.

Thus, the requirement of the handwritten signature of the applicant’s representative guarantees, with the aim of legal certainty, the authenticity of the application and excludes the risk that it is not the work of the lawyer or counsel authorised for that purpose. That requirement must therefore be regarded as an essential procedural requirement and be strictly applicable, so that failure to comply with it renders the action inadmissible.

(see paras 22-24)

See:

15 March 1984, 131/83 Vaupel v Court of Justice, para. 8; 5 December 1996, C‑174/96 P Lopes v Court of Justice, para. 8

23 May 2007, T‑223/06 P Parliament v Eistrup, paras 50 to 51

2.      In European Union civil service disputes, for the purposes of lodging the original of any pleading within the required time-limits, Article 34 of the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, and in particular paragraphs 1 and 6 thereof, require the representative of the party concerned to write his signature by hand on the original of the pleading sent by fax, which must be physically lodged at the Registry of the Tribunal either by post or delivered by hand. In other words, for purposes of lodging the original of any pleading within the required time-limits, Article 34 does not permit the representative of the party concerned to append two different signatures, even if they are authentic, namely one on the document sent by fax to the Tribunal Registry, and the other on the original sent by post or delivered by hand to the Registry.

Accordingly, if it appears that the original pleading physically lodged at the Registry within 10 days of a copy being faxed to the Civil Service Tribunal does not bear the same signature as that on the faxed document, it must be considered that two separate procedural documents have been lodged at the Tribunal Registry, each bearing its own signature, even though each of the signatures was appended by the same person. Since the transmission of the document by fax does not meet the requirements of legal certainly imposed by Article 34 of the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, the date of transmission of the fax cannot be taken into account for the purposes of compliance with the time-limits for bringing proceedings.

Furthermore, the time-limit for bringing proceedings is laid down in Article 91(3) of the Staff Regulations and to this may be added a period on account of distance, as provided for in the first paragraph of Article 45 of the Statute of the Court of Justice. The Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal cannot derogate from those provisions. Consequently, the original application initiating proceedings must be produced within that time-limit. From that point of view, the sending of a pleading by fax is not only a means of transmission, but also a means of proving that the original application received at the Registry outside the time-limit had been produced within the time-limit for bringing proceedings.

(see paras 25-27)

See:

21 February 2013, F‑113/11 Marcuccio v Commission, para. 22