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ERA: Litigating European Union Law Conference

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

By Patrick Fitzgerald BL

The Academy of European Law (ERA) based in Trier, Germany runs a seminar for EU lawyers bi-annually which seeks to train lawyers in how to litigate EU law.

The Bar of Ireland sponsors two practitioners with an interest in EU law to attend this seminar on a bi-annual basis. I was fortunate enough to attend the two day seminar in Trier and in Luxembourg last April along with Hannah Godfrey BL.

The seminar comprises of two elements: a one day intensive course in the ERA’s training facilities in Trier and a one day interactive visit to the CJEU in Luxembourg.

The course seeks to give practitioners a grounding in the practice and procedure of the CJEU. The ERA invites EU law experts drawn from across the EU Member States to give a number of mini-courses to participants. All courses are delivered in English. For example Gráinne Gilmore BL gave an insightful course on the practical aspects of litigating a preliminary reference before the ECJ. Other courses focused on how to a litigate a case before the General Court. Participants are given a EU law case study which they must solve in groups and present to the class. The first day concludes with a conference dinner which is a great opportunity to interact with EU lawyers from across the Member States.

Participants will also have time to explore Trier as part of the conference. Trier, the oldest city in Germany, is a delightful place to visit. The Roman ruins in Trier are a UNESCO world heritage which are dotted all around city. Trier is also the birthplace of Karl Marx and his house in the centre of Trier is home to the Karl Marx Museum.

The second day of the ERA conference comprises a trip to the CJEU in Luxembourg. The Palais of the Court of Justice is located on the Plateau de Kirchberg. As part of the visit, we received a guided tour of the building and we attended a hearing before the CJEU. Prior to attending our designated hearing in the CJEU, we were briefed on the facts of the case by a référendaire. We observed a hearing of a preliminary reference from the Belgian courts on an issue of EU tax law being heard in French. Language is no barrier in the CJEU. The translation services in the CJEU are unparalleled as every seat in each court room is fitted with headphones where citizens can hear a translation of the case being heard before the court in their language of their choice.

I would highly recommend the ERA’s seminar on Litigating European Union Law to members of the Law Library with an interest in EU law. EU law is no longer a niche subject which can be ignored depending on your practice area. The scope of EU law is ever-growing as evidenced by the multiple preliminary references made by the Irish Courts every year to the CJEU. Given the importance of EU law in the Irish legal system, a visit to the CJEU will help to cement your understanding of EU law. The ERA’s seminar on how to litigate EU law is a brilliant opportunity for any Irish practitioner who wishes to expand their knowledge of EU law. Any practitioner interested should apply via the EUBA (EU Bar Association) and the application occurs bi-annually on a rolling basis. Feel free to contact me via my Law Library email should you have any questions.

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