The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) based in Luxembourg is due to double the number of judges. The ECJ, which deals with cases like those brought by the Commission (or by a member state) against a member state's failure to fulfil obligations arising out of the Treaty of Lisbon, is of a particular importance to lawyers involved in cross border transactions: the ECJ has jurisdiction to hear actions begun in national courts from which references are made for a preliminary ruling on issues of interpretation or validity of EU law. Judgments of the ECJ are therefore always taken into account for the interpretation particularly of EU Regulations, which are of immediate and direct application in the UK as in all other member states. The increase in the numbers of judges is in line with the growing number of cases before the ECJ which grew last year to 912 from 790 recorded the year before.
Under an agreement reached with member states the court, located in Kirchberg, will have a total of 56 judges, even though it only requested an additional 12. The Financial Times said the extent of the expansion was a result of EU leaders' failure to decide which countries would receive an additional member. It said that the judges, who will be paid 220,000 euros per year plus allowances, will begin in three phases. Member states are to draw lots to agree on who joins first. The judicial body is the highest in the EU for dealing in matters of European law. With complex cases taking around four years to be closed, it has come under fire for being too slow. The latest expansion aims to accelerate the process.