Covid-19 – Information - Parties before the Court of Justice
Sanitary measures adopted in order to ensure that hearings can take place from 25 May 2020 (applicable to the Court of Justice and the General Court)
Following the decisions taken by the Court of Justice and the General Court to recommence hearings progressively with effect from 25 May 2020, the strictest sanitary measures have been adopted, in accordance with the laws adopted by the Luxembourgish authorities, in order to allow those hearings to proceed under the best possible conditions.
Those measures concern both (I) access to the institution’s buildings and the rules that must be complied with while moving around within them, and (II) the arrangements for the hearing itself, which have been adapted in response to the current exceptional circumstances.
I. Access to the institution’s buildings and the essential rules of conduct within them
Access by the parties’ representatives to the institution’s buildings will exclusively be through the entrance to the Erasmus building (rue du fort Niedergrünewald, L-2925 Luxembourg).
The reception procedure for the parties’ representatives will be similar to the usual procedure, subject to:
If the parties’ representatives do not possess appropriate masks upon arrival at the Court, a mask will be provided by the security service. The mask must be worn at all times while moving around the institution’s buildings and wherever it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2 meters between two people.
In the same way as the institutions’ staff, the parties’ representatives will also be asked to read carefully the information given on notice boards, and to observe strictly the instructions given. Those notices will be repeated, where appropriate, by appropriate markings on the floor and walls.
Finally, it should be noted that a limited restaurant service (in the nature of sandwiches and drinks) will be provided.
II. Arrangements for hearings
In order to provide a high level of sanitary protection, tables, microphones and earphones will be disinfected after each hearing.
The institution will not make gowns available for use by the parties’ representatives. Agents and lawyers are therefore asked to bring their own gown for use at the hearing but, if that is not possible, the Court of Justice and the General Court will, by way of derogation from the applicable rules, allow representatives to plead without a gown.
Contrary to the usual practice, the members of the formation of the Court hearing the case will not meet with the parties’ representatives before the start of the hearing. The presence of those representatives will be checked, before the start of the hearing and at a distance, by the registrar for the hearing and the court usher.
The necessary arrangements have also been made in order to ensure compliance with the physical distancing rules within each hearing room. The parties’ representatives will be positioned in such a way as to maintain a two meter distance between each person present within the room.
The parties’ representatives will make their oral submissions from the place that will have been indicated to them. In cases where one microphone must be used by several people, it will be cleaned and disinfected after each intervention.
Those representatives who wish to provide the possible text or written aid for their pleading for the needs of the interpretation services are asked to send them, as far as possible, before midday (local time of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) on the working day before the day of the hearing, to the address: Interpretation@curia.europa.eu.
Change to judicial activities
Owing to the unprecedented health crisis that we are currently experiencing, the Court of Justice has been obliged to change its working arrangements temporarily.
Procedural time limits
Procedural time limits for instituting proceedings and lodging appeals continue to run and parties are required to comply with those time limits, without prejudice to the possible application of the second paragraph of Article 45 of the Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
By contrast, the time limits prescribed in ongoing proceedings – with the exception of proceedings that are particularly urgent, such as urgent proceedings, expedited proceedings and interim proceedings – are extended by one month. Those time limits shall expire at the end of the day which, in the following month, is numbered the same as the day on which the time limit should have expired or, if that day does not exist in the following month, at the end of the day of the last day of that month.
Until further notice, unless otherwise stated, the time limits that are to be fixed by the registry shall also be increased by one month.
Hearings had been suspended with effect from 16 March 2020 due to the health crisis, but will resume from Monday 25 May 2020. All necessary measures are being taken to ensure that those hearings take place under optimal conditions from both a logistical and sanitary perspective, but whether hearings resume and are conducted remains dependent on the decisions taken by the national authorities in order to combat transmission of the virus. Furthermore, it cannot be ruled out that some of those hearings will have to be replaced with questions to the parties for a written response owing to the difficulties caused by Covid-19. In respect of hearings that are re-listed, the representatives of the parties in the cases concerned will be informed by the registry of the dates and times of those hearings and, in order for those hearings to be arranged effectively, in particular as regards linguistic requirements, those representatives will be asked to inform the registry as soon as possible as to their attendance at those hearings.
The parties are requested to consult regularly the internet site of the Court of Justice of the European Union (https://curia.europa.eu).
Communication with the parties - Importance of the e-Curia application
In order to facilitate communication with the parties in this period of crisis, the courts of the Member States and the representatives of parties who do not yet have an e-Curia account are strongly encouraged to learn about this secure application (e-Curia), which allows the lodging and service of procedural documents to be done electronically in cases brought before the Court. All details as to the functions of that application and the method for opening an account can be found on the internet site referred to above, at the following address: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/P_78957.
Due to the circumstances, application forms for opening accounts sent to the registry by email shall be accepted, exceptionally, on condition that they are accompanied by the necessary supporting documents, which are duly signed and scanned.