Author: Aleksei Ispolinov
Keywords: appellate and review procedure; EU Court of Justice; precedent value; preliminary rulings; vertical precedent
This article explores the meaning of precedent in the practice of the Court of Justice of the European Union, particularly, a binding character of previous CJEU decisions. In his paper the author argues that despite the fact that CJEU (in striking contrast with the European Court of Human Rights and other international courts) has never formulated its own attitude towards precedential (or quasi-precedential) value of its own judgments. Nevertheless the Court tends to follow its previous rulings, only in exceptional circumstances trying to deviate from or overrule them. Within this article, the precedential footing of the CJEU judgments and decisions is viewed from three vision angles. First, considering the obligation of the CJEU to follow its own decisions. Secondly, in regard of binding character of the CJEU decisions for lower EU courts (vertical precedent principle), namely for the General Court and the EU Civil Service Tribunal. Finally, the author considers a precedential value of the CJEU preliminary rulings for national courts of the EU member states. The author concludes that, being initially set up as almost full copy of the French Conseil d’État, the CJEU managed to build up its own system of precedents acting now more as a common law court rather than a continental law court. And even though precedent is not officially regarded as a source of the EU law, it plays a highly significant role in the functioning of the EU legal system, contributing to its unity and integrity. So, the precedent as a legal principle being accepted by the institutions of the European Union and member states including their national courts, acquires over time a quasi-normative status.
About the author: Aleksei Ispolinov – Candidate of Legal Sciences, Associate Professor, Law Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University.
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