ORDER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CIVIL SERVICE TRIBUNAL (Third Chamber)

11 March 2013

Case F‑17/12

Luigi Marcuccio

v

European Commission

(Civil service — Article 34(1) and (6) of the Rules of Procedure — Application lodged by fax within the time-limit for bringing proceedings — Lawyer’s handwritten signature different from that on the original application received by post — Action lodged out of time — Manifest inadmissibility)

Application:      Brought by Mr Marcuccio under Article 270 TFEU, applicable to the EAEC Treaty pursuant to Article 106a thereof, seeking, in substance, compensation for the damage which he claims to have sustained as a result of the duration of the procedure relating to his claim of 25 November 2012. On 8 February 2012, prior to the original application being lodged by post, a document described as a copy of that application was sent by fax to the Tribunal Registry and received the same day.

Held: The application is dismissed as manifestly inadmissible. Mr Marcuccio is to bear his own costs and is ordered to pay those of the Commission.

Summary

1.      Judicial proceedings — Application initiating proceedings — Formal requirements — Handwritten signature of a lawyer — Essential rule to be applied strictly — Lack of signature — Inadmissibility

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

2.      Judicial proceedings — Application initiating proceedings — Formal requirements — Application lodged by fax within the time-limit for bringing proceedings — Lawyer’s handwritten signature different from that on the original application received by post — Consequence — Date of receipt of the fax not taken into account in determining whether the proceedings had been brought within the time-limit

(Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, Art. 34; Staff Regulations, Art. 91(3))

1.      The effect of the third paragraph of Article 19 and the first paragraph of Article 21 of the Statute of the Court of Justice is that every applicant must be represented by a duly authorised person. Consequently, proceedings before the Courts of the Union can only validly be instituted by an application signed by such a person. Pursuant to Article 7(1) of Annex 1 to that Statute, the same provisions apply to proceedings before the Civil Service Tribunal. No derogation from or exception to that requirement is provided for by the Statute or by the Rules of Procedure of the Tribunal.

The requirement for the handwritten signature of the applicant’s representative is designed, for reasons of legal certainty, to ensure the authenticity of the application and eliminate the risk that it is not in fact the work of the lawyer or adviser authorised for that purpose. That person, as a legal representative, fulfils the essential role, conferred by the Statute of the Court of Justice and the Rules of Procedure of Civil Service Tribunal, of enabling the applicant to have access to the Tribunal. That requirement must therefore be regarded as an essential procedural rule and be applied strictly, failure to comply with that rule leading to the inadmissibility of the action.

(see paras 22-23)

See:

5 December 1996, C‑174/96 P Lopes v Court of Justice, para. 8 and the case-law cited

23 May 2007, T‑223/06 P Parliament v Eistrup, paras 50-52

2.      In proceedings before the Civil Service Tribunal of the Union, for the purposes of lodging the original of any pleading within the applicable time-limits, Article 34 of the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal 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 set by Article 91(3) of the Staff Regulations, from which the Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal cannot derogate. 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:

22 September 2011, C‑426/10 P Bell & Ross BV v OHIM, paras 37-43