Those CJEU case citations: the answer

Following the Kat's earlier post, thanks are instantly due to Mathieu Pitté for sending us this link to the following information:

New method of citing the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the basis of the ECLI (European Case-Law Identifier)

I. The context of the alteration of the method of citing the case-law
As part of an initiative taken by the Council, a European Case-Law Identifier (ECLI) has recently been created. [1] That identifier is intended to provide an unambiguous reference both to national and European case-law and to define a minimum set of uniform metadata for the case-law.  It thus facilitates the consultation and citation of case-law in the European Union.
The ECLI is composed of the following four mandatory sections, in addition to the prefix ‘ECLI':
  • The code corresponding to the Member State of the court or tribunal concerned or to the European Union where it is an EU Court;
  • The abbreviation corresponding to the court which gave the decision;
  • The year of the decision;
  • An order number of a maximum of 25 alphanumeric characters, in a format decided by each Member State or supranational court or tribunal concerned. The order number may not contain any punctuation sign other than full stops (‘.') or colons (‘:'), the latter separating the sections of an ECLI.
Following the recommendation of the Council that the Court of Justice of the European Union adopt the European Case-Law Identifier system, the Court has assigned an ECLI to all decisions delivered by the European Union Courts since 1954 and to the Opinions and Views of the Advocates General.
For example, the ECLI of the judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 July 2005 in Case C-403/03 Schempp is the following: ‘EU:C:2005:446'. [2]
It is broken down as follows:
  • ‘EU' indicates that it is a decision delivered by an EU Court or Tribunal (if the decision were one of a national court, the code corresponding to the relevant Member State would appear in the place of ‘EU');
  • ‘C' indicates that this decision was delivered by the Court of Justice. If the decision were delivered by the General Court or by the Civil Service Tribunal, the indicator would be ‘T' or ‘F' respectively;
  • ‘2005' indicates that the decision was delivered during 2005;
  • ‘446' indicates that it is the 446th ECLI attributed in respect of that year.
II. The new method of citing the case-law
The new method of citing the case-law adopted by the Court of Justice of the European Union combines the ECLI with the usual name of the decision and the case's number in the Register.
Thus, this new method of citation:
- improves the accessibility of legal decisions in that the references to the case-law contain, each time they appear, the information necessary unambiguously to identify the decision to which reference is made;
- gives a greater linguistic neutrality since the format of the citation is largely identical in all languages and, thus, contains fewer elements to be translated; and
- facilitates the automatic insertion of hyperlinks on the ECLI, the decision cited and the relevant paragraph of that decision.
In addition, following current usage, a distinction will remain, for all three Courts, between the method of making the first citation and that of the subsequent citations.  
Thus, for the Court of Justice and the Civil Service Tribunal, as from the second reference to the same case, the case's number in the Register will no longer be given. As regards the General Court, the reference will not contain either the date of the decision or the number in the Register nor, as appropriate, the publication reference.
Finally, please note that the Courts will each apply the method of citation used by that particular Court, in the decisions adopted by it, for references both to its own case-law and to that of the other two European Union Courts or Tribunals.
The different sections of the new method of citing case-law are as follows:
  • First reference
Court of Justice and Civil Service Tribunal
General Court:
  • Subsequent references
Court of Justice and Civil Service Tribunal
General Court:
  • Application in time
The new method of citing the case-law will be introduced progressively by each European Union Court or Tribunal during the first half of 2014.
1. Council conclusions inviting the introduction of the European Case Law Identifier (ECLI) and a minimum set of uniform metadata for case law (OJ 2011 C 127, p. 1). For more information, please see:
 In the interest of not extending the reference to no good purpose, the prefix ‘ECLI' will not be included in the citation of the decisions of the Court of Justice, the General Court or the Civil Service Tribunal.
This Kat greatly wishes that this exercise had not been sprung on him as a sudden surprise, for the reasons outlined in his earlier blog post. He does not however assume, from the absence of the words "report" and "reporting", that this will not affect the fate of the desperately slow reportage of cases from the court.  
Those CJEU case citations: the answer Those CJEU case citations: the answer Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. Just to save you another scare.... If you click "international" in the link provided in the post, you'll see that EPO Board of Appeal is since about a year enthusiastically using ECLI. Their implementation is however not a new way of numbering, but the final part of ECLI is simply the old case number...

    CJEU could easily have done the same by choosing a more understandable format, e.g. ECLI:EU:C:2014:131.11 (or ECLI:EU:C:2014:C131.11) for C131/11 instead of the new ordinal number ECLI:EU:C:2014:317

    I could also add some good news:
    -Bailii is not planning be replaced by IE/UK
    -there will be an ECLI resolver; a website tool where you can type in the ecli and which will provide links to available case law databases

  2. I am confused. You say four mandatory components *plus the prefix ECLI*, and then don't use the prefix ECLI in any examples... So are the examples right?


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