21. Appendix: How to Study European Law  

How to Find (and Read) EU Court Judgments

All EU cases are identified by a number/year figure. Cases before the Court of Justice are preceded by a C-, while cases decided before the General Court are preceded by a T-( for the French ‘Tribunal’).7 The Civil Service Tribunal prefixed its cases with an F-( for the French ‘Fonction publique’). Following this unique figure come the names of the parties to the case. A full case name would for example be: Case C-144/ 04, Werner Mangold v. Rüdiger Helm. However, since no one can remember all the numbers or all the parties, EU cases often get simply abbreviated by the main party; in our case Mangold.
In the past, judgments of all EU Courts were published in paper form in the purple-bound European Court Reports (ECR). Cases decided by the Court of Justice were published in the ECR-I series; cases decided by the General Court were published in the ECR-II series, while cases decided by the Civil Service Tribunal were published in the ECR-SC series. However, as of 2012, the entire Court of Justice of the European Union decided to go ‘paperless’ and it now publishes its judgments only electronically.8 The two principal websites here are the Court’s own curia website (http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/j_6), and the Union’s general EUR-Lex website (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/homepage.html). For the purposes of this book, the easiest way is however to go to www.schutze.eu, which contains all the judgments mentioned in the main text – including the ‘Lisbon’ version of all classic EU Court judgments.
Once upon a time, judgments issued by the European Court were – to paraphrase Hobbes –‘nasty, brutish and short’. Their shortness was partly due to a structural division the Court made between the ‘Issues of Fact and of Law’ (or later: ‘Report for the Hearing’), which set out the facts, procedure and the arguments of the parties, on the one hand, and the ‘Grounds of Judgment’ on the other. Only the latter constituted the judgment sensu stricto and was often very short indeed. For the Court originally followed the ‘French’ ideal of trying to put the entire judgment into a single ‘sentence’! A judgment like Van Gend en Loos contains about 2,000 words – not more than an undergraduate essay.

Figure 21.3. Mangold judgment: analysis

This world of short judgments is – sadly or not – gone. A typical judgment issued today will, on average, be four to five times as long as Van Gend. (And in the worst-case scenario, a judgment, especially in the area of EU competition law, may be as long as 100,000 words – a book of about 300 pages!) This new comprehensiveness is perhaps the product of a more refined textualist methodology, but it also results from a change in the organisation and style of judgments. Modern judgments have come to integrate much of the facts and the parties’ arguments into the main body of a ‘single’ judgment, and this has especially made many direct actions much longer and much more repetitive! The structure of a modern ECJ judgment given under the preliminary reference procedure may be studied by looking at Figure 20.2.