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The General Court (EGC) is a jurisdictional instance of the Court of Justice of the European Union. From its inception on 1 January 1989 to 30 November 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance (CFI).
The General Court hears disputes (such as disputes brought by those refused a trademark by OHIM, the EU Trade Mark and designs registry). Appeals are sent to the European Court of Justice. The General Court is an independent Court attached to the European Court of Justice.
The creation of the General Court instituted a judicial system based on two levels of jurisdiction: all cases heard at first instance by the General Court may be subject to a right of appeal to the Court of Justice on points of law only.
In view of the increasing number of cases brought before the General Court in the last five years, to relieve it of some of the caseload, the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003, provides for the creation of 'judicial panels' in certain specific areas.
On 2 November 2004 the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. This new specialised tribunal, composed of seven judges, will hear and determine at first instance disputes involving the European Civil Service. Its decisions will be subject to a right of appeal before the General Court on points of law only. Decisions given by the General Court in this area may exceptionally be subject to review by the Court of Justice. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal was duly constituted into law on 2 December 2005.
The creation of a European Union Patent Tribunal is currently being examined.
The General Court (previously known as the "Court of First Instance") is composed of 27 judges, at least one from each Member State, plus a registrar. The Judges are appointed for a renewable term of six years by common accord of the governments of the Member States.
The Members of the General Court elect their president and the presidents of the Chambers of five Judges from among their number for a renewable period of three years.
There are no permanent Advocates General attached to the General Court (unlike the European Court of Justice which has 8 Advocates General). However, the task of an Advocate General may be performed in a limited number of cases by a Judge nominated to do so. In practice this has been done only very occasionally.
|1989–1995||José Luis Da Cruz Vilaça|
|Nicholas James Forwood||United Kingdom||1999||2011|
|Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro||Portugal||2003||2015|
|Irena Pelikánová||Czech Republic||2004||2010|
|Savvas S. Papasavvas||Cyprus||2004||2010|
|Emmanuel Coulon (registrar)||France||2005||2011|
|Enzo Moavero Milanesi||Italy||2006||2012|
|Santiago Soldevila Fragoso||Spain||2007||2013|
|Sten Frimodt Nielsen||Denmark||2007||2013|
|Virpi Tiili||Finland||8 January 1995||6 October 2009|||
|Arjen Meij||Netherlands||17 September 1998||13 September 2010|||
|Ena Cremona||Malta||12 May 2004||22 March 2010|||
|Teodor Tchipev||Bulgaria||12 January 2007||29 June 2010|||
The General Court, like the Court of Justice, has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties of the European Union and the provisions adopted by the competent Union institutions.
To fulfil its main task, the General Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine at first instance all direct actions brought by individuals and the Member States, with the exception of those to be assigned to a 'judicial panel' and those reserved for the Court of Justice.
(against acts of the Union institutions)
(against inaction by the Union institutions)
(for the reparation of damage caused by unlawful conduct on the part of a Union institution)
(disputes concerning contracts in public or private law entered into by the Union, containing such a clause)
(disputes between the Union and its officials and other servants)
Subject-matter of direct actions: all matters, including:
The General Court has its own Rules of Procedure. As a rule the Court’s procedure includes a written phase and an oral phase. The proceedings are in a language chosen by the applicant. The working language of the Court, however, including the language in which the judges deliberate and the language in which preliminary reports and judgments are drafted is French. This makes the General Court, along with the Court of Justice of the European Union, the only international court where French is the sole working language 
The Court is divided into eight chambers, generally consisting of three judges, except for the sixth and the eighth chambers, which consist of four judges and alternate to form three-judge chambers for the purposes of dealing with cases . Cases are distributed by the President of the Court to the presidents of the chambers. The presidents of chamber then assign a Judge-Rapporteur amongst the judges in the chamber, whose clerks write a preliminary report (rapport prealable) based on the pleadings received from the parties and the applicable law.
At the close of the written procedure and, as the case may be, on adoption of measures of inquiry, the case is argued orally in open court. The proceedings are interpreted simultaneously, as necessary, into different official languages of the European Union. The Judges then deliberate on the basis of a draft judgment prepared by the Judge-Rapporteur. The judgment is delivered in open court.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2009)|
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