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
Ispolinov A. (2016) Pretsedent v praktike Suda Evropeyskogo Soyuza [Precedent in the jurisprudence of the European Union Court of Justice]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no.3, pp.64–77. (In Russian).
Abdulin A.I. (2012) Sudebnyy pretsedent v sisteme istochnikov prava Evropeyskogo Soyuza [Judicial precedent in the law sources system of the European Union]. Pravovaya politika I pravovaya zhizn’, no.2, pp.144–149. (In Russian).
Arnull A. (1993) Owning up to Fallibility: Precedent and the Court of Justice. Common Market Law Review, vol.30, no.2, pp.247–266.
Arnull A. (2006) The European Union and its Court of Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Biryukov M.M. (2003) Evropeyskoye pravo: kratkiy kurs [European law: a short course], Moscow: Diplomatic academy. (In Russian).
Bradley K. (2014) Vertical Precedent at the Court of Justice of the European Union: When Push Comes to Shove. In: Bradley K., Travers N., Whelan A. (eds.) Of Courts and Constitutions: Liber Amicorum in Honour of Nial Fennelly, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp.47–65.
Derlén M., Lindholm J. (2015) Characteristics of Precedent: The Case Law of the European Court of Justice in Three Dimensions. German Law Journal, vol.16, no.5, pp.1073–1098.
Dovgan’ E.K. K voprosu o statuse istochnikov prava Evropeyskogo Soyuza [On the status the law sources system of the European Union]. Zhurnal mezhdunarodnogo prava i mezhdunarodnykh otnosheniy, no.1, pp.3–9. (In Russian).
Entin K.V. (2015) Pravo Evropeyskogo Soyuza i praktika Suda Evropeyskogo Soyuza [Law of the European Union and jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice], Moscow: Norma. (In Russian).
Golub K.Yu. (2007) Sudebnyy pretsedent v sistemаkh mezhdunarodnogo i evropeyskogo prava [Judicial precedent in the international and European law systems]. Izvestiya Saratovskogo universiteta. Series: “Ekonomika. Upravleniye. Pravo”, no.1, pp.92–96. (In Russian).
Gorshkov V.A. (2012) Pravovaya priroda i vidy istochnikov sudebnogo prava ES [Legal nature and types of sources of the European Union law]. Vestnik ekonomiki, prava i sotsiologii, no.1, pp.183–187. (In Russian).
Goshin V.A. (2015) Sudebnyy pretsedent kak istochnik prava Evropeyskogo Soyuza [Judicial precedent as a source of law in the European Union]. Probely v rossiyskom zakonodatel’stve, no.4, pp.290–295. (In Russian).
Jacob M. (2014) Precedents and Case-based Reasoning in the European Court of Justice: Unfinished Business, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Komárek J. (2005) Federal elements in the Community judicial system: Building coherence in the Community legal order. Common Market Law Review, vol.42, no.1, pp.9–34.
Komárek J. (2013) Reasoning with Previous Decisions: Beyond the Doctrine of Precedent. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol.61, no.1, pp.149–172.
Kapustin A. (2000) Evropeysky Soyuz: integratsiya i pravo. [European Union: integration and law], Moscow: Izdatel’stvo RUDN. (In Russian).
Mancini F., Keeling D. (1995) Language, Culture and Politics in the Life of the European Court of Justice. Columbia Journal of European Law, vol.1, no.1, pp.397–414.
Marchenko M.N., Deryabina E.M. (2010) Pravo Evropeyskogo Soyuza: Voprosy teorii i praktiki [Law of the European Union: issues of theory and practice], Moscow: Prospekt. (In Russian).
Meshcheryakova O.M. (2013) Rol’ Suda ES (pretsedentnogo prava) v razvitii zakonodatel’stva o konkurentsii Evropeyskogo Soyuza [The role of the Court of Justice of the EU (case-law) in the development of competition laws of the European union]. Rossiyskaya yustitsiya, no.9, pp.17–19. (In Russian).
Orlova Yu.M. (2014) Sud ES i pravovaya integratsiya gosudarstv – chlenov Evropeyskogo Soyuza [The European Court of Justice and legal integration of EU members]. Vestnik Nizhegorodskogo universiteta im.N.I.Lobachevskogo, no.6, pp.142–145. (In Russian).
Perju V.F. (2009) Reason and Authority in the European Court of Justice. Virginia Journal of International Law, vol.49, no.2, pp.307–377.
Rosenfeld M. (2006) Comparing Constitutional Review by the European Court of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.4, no.4, pp.618–651.
Tikhonovetsky D.S. (2004) Sudebnaya praktika v sisteme istochnikov Evropeyskogo prava: dis. … kand. yurid. nauk [Case-law jurisprudence in the sources system of the European law: Ph.D. dissertation], Moscow. (In Russian).
Tridimas T. (2012) Precedent and the Court of Justice: A Jurisprudence of Doubt? In: Dickson J., Eleftheriadis P. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of European Union Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.307–330.
Weiler J.H.H. (2001) Epilogue: The Judicial Après Nice. In: De Búrca G., Weiler J.H.H. (eds.) The European Court of Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.215–226.
Moscow, Shchepkina str., 8
+7 (495) 608-69-59
+7 (495) 608-66-35