Lord Mance is giving the UKAEL Annual lecture on the “Composition of the Court of Justice” tonight. It ought to shed some light on the murky world of appointments to the Luxembourg courts, where judges are appointed by the Member States without necessarily having gone through any sort of competition beforehand (though this is not, thankfully, the case here in the UK). Lord Mance sits on the panel set up under the Lisbon Treaty to scrutinise proposed appointments and give its opinion on the candidates’ suitability for office. The establishment of the panel is a welcome development, although many will say it is no substitute for an open competition.
In this connection, there have been some interesting developments in Brussels and Luxembourg. Back in March of this year, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) presented a proposal to amend in various respects the Court’s Statute. The most interesting proposal was to expand the size of the General Court (GC) from 27 judges to 39. The CJEU is rightly concerned about the length of time it currently takes to process cases – often upwards of 3 years – which risks compromising the right to effective judicial protection (enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights). The backlog has been of concern to practitioners for some time. There are a number of reasons for it, one of which is the increased litigation which has come the GC’s way following the 2 rounds of accession to the EU in the last decade. Urgent action is certainly called for – hence the sensible suggestion to increase the GC’s size.