On December 19, 2006 Judge of the Court of First Instance of European Community (EC) Ingrida Labucka was visiting Supreme Court and discussed and compared different category cases in Latvia and other European Union (EU) member states. At the beginning of the discussion she stressed that with every year the similarities between the Court of First Instance and national courts increase. For example, Administrative Department of Senate is already using the jurisprudence of the First Instance Court and that is one of the reasons why we need that kind exchange of experience

The Court of First Instance is made up of at least one judge from each Member State (27 in 2007). The judges are appointed by agreement of the Member State governments for a renewable mandate of six years. They appoint their President, for a period of three years, from amongst themselves. They appoint a Registrar for a mandate of six years.

The Court of First Instance sits in Chambers of five or three judges or, in some cases, as a single judge. It may also sit as a Grand Chamber (thirteen judges) or as a full court when the legal complexity or importance of the case justifies it. Approximately three quarters of the cases brought before the Court of First Instance are heard by a Chamber of three judges.

The Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to hear:

  • direct actions brought by natural or legal persons against acts of Community institutions (addressed to them or directly concerning them as individuals) or against a failure to act on the part of those institutions, for example, a case brought by a company against a Commission decision imposing a fine on that company;
  • actions brought by the Member States against the Commission;
  • actions brought by the Member States against the Council relating to acts adopted in the field of State aid, ‘dumping’ and acts by which it exercises implementing powers;
  • actions seeking compensation for damage caused by the Community institutions or their staff;
  • actions based on contracts made by the Communities which expressly give jurisdiction to the Court of First Instance;
  • actions relating to Community trade marks.

The rulings made by the Court of First Instance may, within two months, be subject to an appeal, limited to questions of law, to the Court of Justice.

Disputes between the Communities and their staff are heard by the Civil Service Tribunal. However, there is a right of appeal, limited to questions of law, to the Court of First Instance.

From the beginning of its operation until the end of 2006, the Court ruled on more than 5,200 cases. Its case-law has developed in particular in the fields of intellectual property, competition and State aid.

Now there arouse a big discussion about own ethical code for the judges of the first Instance court, the proposed norms would be very strict and detailed.

Also very topical question is about the declaration of means, but for Labucka it would not change anything, because she is already declaring all her means in accordance with Latvian judicial norms.