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  • In addition to legislation, case law is an important primary source of information on decision-making in the European Union. The case law of the European Court of Justice and, since 1989, of the Court of First Instance are published in the Reports of Cases before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, often referred to as European Court Reports (ECR). Apart from the text of the judgement, the opinion of the Advocate-General and a summary on the basis of key words is provided. This paper publication is the only authentic source from which the case law of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance may be cited. Since 1994, the case law of the Court of First Instance concerning staff cases may be found in a separate loose-leaf publication entitled Reports of European Community staff cases . These judgements are published in the language of the case. The texts of judgements that are later pronounced on appeal by the Court of Justice are published in the Reports of Cases before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance.

    More than a year passes before the texts of judgements are published in their definitive and official form. To remedy this deficiency, the Court of Justice publishes transcripts of individual opinions, orders and judgements and of the Advocate-General´s opinions. The texts of the judgements are published on paper in all official languages; the opinions appear only in the language of the Advocate-General and in the language of the case. These judgements and opinions can also be found under Recent case law at the site of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance. In addition, the site contains Proceedings of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, an overview of the judicial activities of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance of the European Communities. It contains summaries of the judgements rendered and of the opinions of the Advocates-General, an overview of the cases pending before the Court, and important events. There is also a paper edition.

    Texts of judgements can also be found in various databases. These include databases with elaborate search possibilities that also contain legislation. The most important database is CELEX, an online database of the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities that is not publicly accessible. However, EURLEX is a good alternative. There are also commercial products, e.g., the OJ Online database, that largely contain the same information as CELEX.

    If the case number of a judgement is known, but not where it can be found in the Case Law of the Court of Justice, it is possible to find it via the Index A-Z. You can search in the paper edition of this index by case number or the names of the parties. On the web page Case law numerical access to the case law is offered by indices available in English and French. From the index it is possible to click hyperlinks and access the texts of the judgements.

    Judgements of the Court of Justice are also published in various legal journals, e.g., in Common Market Law Reports. Most journals, however, only publish relevant selections of judgements, sometimes only summaries and/or annotations. Some journals more or less regularly publish surveys of Court of Justice case law. Such publications are useful mainly to form a picture of the most important developments in European case law.

    If you are looking for references to annotations of the judgements of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, the French publication Notes - references de doctrine may be useful. In this publication of the Court of Justice, which also appears in paper form, judgements are arranged by case number and annotations or discussions in journals are referred to per judgement. These references to legal annotations are also available in the database CELEX and OJ Online.