Reference to the European Court of Justice (pre-October 2013) [Archived]
Reference to the European Court of Justice (pre-October 2013) [Archived]

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Reference to the European Court of Justice (pre-October 2013) [Archived]
  • What is a reference to the European Court?
  • When can a reference to the European Court be made
  • How to make a reference to the European Court
  • Jurisdiction to refer
  • The court's discretion
  • Contents of the reference
  • Urgent applications
  • Transmission to the European Court
  • Effect on existing proceedings
  • more

This Practice Note has been archived and is not updated

What is a reference to the European Court?

The Court of Justice of the European Communities (European Court) can give a preliminary ruling on the law of the European Union, the validity of acts of the institutions of the Community and the validity of acts of secondary legislation by which Member States implement Community law. The European Court's role is to interpret Community law or to rule on its validity, not to apply the law to the facts underlying the main proceedings. A request for guidance is known as a preliminary reference, or reference; the answer is known as a preliminary ruling.

When can a reference to the European Court be made

An order for a reference to the European Court can be made at any stage of proceedings. It is however desirable to seek a preliminary ruling when proceedings are at a stage at which the court is able to define the factual and legal context of the question being referred.

How to make a reference to the European Court

In order to make a reference to the European Court a party must obtain an order from the English court. The application is made under CPR 23. There is no guidance in CPR 23 or