COVID-19 prompts changes to working arrangements for the Court of Justice of the European Union

09 April 2020. Published by Louise Morgan, Senior Associate and Alessandro Cerri, Associate

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CJEU announced, on 19 March 2020, that it will be temporarily changing its working arrangements.

Key temporary changes to court working arrangements and deadlines

For the foreseeable future, while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, the CJEU will give priority to cases that are particularly urgent, such as urgent, expedited or interim hearings.

In the absence of urgency (for example the types of cases given priority as above), time limits in respect of on-going proceedings are extended by one month.  Those time limits will expire at the end of the day with the corresponding date in the following month, as the day on which the time-limit should have expired; or if the relevant date does not exist in the following month, the last day of that following month applies as the deadline.

Procedural time limits for starting proceedings and for lodging appeals continue to run, although it is recognised that the second limb of Article 45 of the Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the EU may possibly apply in some cases; that is that no right shall be prejudiced by the expiry of a time-limit if the party concerned can prove the existence of unforeseeable circumstances or of force majeure.

Hearings prior to 30 April  2020 have been adjourned, and affected parties have been asked to consult the information page for the Court of Justice of the European Union (here) for updates and further alterations to working arrangements.

Comment

Just as domestic courts here in the UK are being forced to make unprecedented changes to the way they are working, and are feeling their way through the challenges brought about by the current pandemic crisis, so the CJEU has also been forced to make changes in response to the widespread disruption caused by Covid-19.  No doubt the various changes made will have knock-on effects for the longer term, which remain to be seen.