Q&As

How can English courts apply or refer to a Court of Justice decision if the judgment is not published in English and therefore there is no Court of Justice approved judgment available in English?

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Published on LexisPSL on 23/10/2019

The following IP Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How can English courts apply or refer to a Court of Justice decision if the judgment is not published in English and therefore there is no Court of Justice approved judgment available in English?
  • Foreign language working of the CJEU
  • Authentic texts
  • Unofficial translation

How can English courts apply or refer to a Court of Justice decision if the judgment is not published in English and therefore there is no Court of Justice approved judgment available in English?

At common law, foreign law is generally a matter of fact that must be proved by an expert witness (and where necessary a translator or interpreter). However, cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) are not regarded as ‘foreign’ authorities for the purposes of citation by advocates in English courts.

The Practice Direction (citation of authorities) issued by the Lord Chief Justice makes clear that the citation of cases decided in the CJEU (as it now is) follows the same rules as domestic decisions, because of the status in English law of such authority by virtue of section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA 1972) (as amended).

Foreign language working of the CJEU

The complication arises where the CJEU has issued its decision only in a language or languages other than English.

The CJEU is comprised of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court. A third court, the European Civil Service Tribunal, was disbanded in 2016. The court most commonly referred to is the Court of Justice, and the question in this case is understood to be referring to that particular court.

Procedure before the Court

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