Select Committee on European Communities Report


80.  THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE: SINGLE JUDGE (25TH REPORT, SESSION 1997-98)

Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

INTRODUCTION

  1.  The Government welcomes the Committee's comprehensive report, and the Committee's support for the proposal by the Court of Justice that the Court of First Instance should, in certain cases, be able to be constituted by a single Judge.

  2.  The Government's response on the points raised is below.

    Page 26—"Beyond the single Judge"

The CFI needs greater freedom to adapt its Rules of Procedure (paragraph 96)

  3.  The Government is sympathetic to the idea that the Court should have greater freedom to adapt its own Rules of Procedure. The Committee will recall that, at the last Intergovernmental Conference, the United Kingdom did not object to proposals to amend Article 188 to allow the Court to amend its Rules of Procedure by Qualified Majority Voting. We would give similarly careful consideration to such proposals in the future.

Consideration might usefully be given to the establishment of a consultative committee to provide a forum for exchanging views between the CFI and the clients of those who appear before it (paragraph 97)

  4.  The Government acknowledges that this suggestion could provide a useful informal mechanism for constructive dialogue. It would be important, however, to obtain the views of the Court of First Instance themselves. Any such committee ought to be managed within existing resources, and remain on an informal footing.

In the long term the CFI needs more Judges (paragraph 98)

  5.  The Government is not at present convinced that the CFI will need more judges before the next enlargement. Accordingly, in the current climate of budgetary rigour the Government would not support such a proposal unless sufficient off-setting savings could be found elsewhere. The Government expects that the Single Judge proposal, if accepted, will provide some relief, and that, in the longer term, enlargement will provide the CFI with extra manpower.

  However, the Government is sympathetic to the potential problems of the Court's workload. If serious problems were to develop it would consider carefully any proposals for ensuring the continued efficiency of the Court, including the prospect of extra judges.


 
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