Finding EU Materials

If you need a refresher on legislation, go back to the OverviewEU Legal Sources

Finding EU Materials Electronically

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EU Materials in print

On this page:

  • Official Journal
  • Case law
  • European Court Reports (ECR)
  • Common Market Law Reports (CMLR)
  • Other sources of EU case law
  • EU legislation

Official Journal

The Official Journal of the European Communities (known as the OJ) is the authoritative source of EU information. It is a vast publication with new issues appearing nearly every day. It is divided into several series, the most important of which for lawyers are:

  • C Series - covers information of public interest which does not appear in the L and S series. This includes treaties, brief details of cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union (EUCJ) or General Court (GC) and legislation in preparation (e.g COM docs)
  • L Series - covers secondary legislation (e.g. directives, decisions and regulations) and details of international agreements and conventions
  • S Series - covers invitations to tender for public contracts

The Official Journal cites itself:
OJ [series] [issue number] [year] [page number]
e.g. OJ L 145 2001 p.43 When you are using the OJ it is important to make sure that you are using the correct series (e.g. C or L) as the volume numbers and pagination are repeated.

In English citation systems such as OSCOLA, the OJ is cited slightly differently, beginning with the year of publication in square brackets. So, for the example given above, it would take the following form: [2001] OJ L154/43.

An index to the OJ is produced every year and can be used to search by subject or by document number. In the Bodleian Law Library it is shelved at the end of the C series. 

Case law

Case numbers

When cases are referred to the EUCJ they are given a case number. This consists of a running number allocated by the court, and the year the case was registered. After the creation of the Court of First Instance in 1989, the letter C was added in front of case numbers for EUCJ cases, for example, C-251/88 Re VAT on Telecommunications: EC Commission v Germany, and the prefix T was added before case numbers for CFI (now GC) cases.

The case number is vital when searching for cases in the Official Journal. It is also very useful when searching online databases such as Eurlex, BAILII and Westlaw. It can also be used to search the indexes to the European Court Reports andCommon Market Law Reports.

Case law in the OJ

An ECJ or CFI case will appear in the OJ C series several times:

  • when a case is first registered with the ECJ, the OJ will print a brief summary of the matter in dispute
  • if the case is dropped before judgment, the OJ will note of its removal from the register
  • when a judgment is issued, the OJ will print a brief summary.

To find cases in the OJ by case number use the Annual Index, which is shelved at the end of the C series. Consult the methodological tables in the second part of the index. These include indexes of cases added to the register during the year, cases removed from the register and judgments.

European Court Reports (ECR) - Euro Comm 100 R314

The European Court Reports, which ceased publication in 2011, included all judgments from the ECJ/EUCJ and CFI/GC, and should be cited where available.

The ECR is arranged chronologically, with judgments being numbered sequentially throughout the year. This makes it easy to find a case if you know the year of the judgment (and even more so if you know the exact date).

Since the creation of the Court of First Instance in 1989, the annual volumes of the ECR have been split into two sequences. The first, indicated by a roman numberal I reports ECJ judgments. The second, indicated by II, reports CFI judgments.

Before 1989 judgments in the ECR were cited in the form: 
case number, party names, [judgment year] ECR page number

Since 1989 judgments in the ECR have been cited in the form:
case number, party names [judgment year] ECR [sequence I or II]- page number
e.g. Case C - 286/88 Falciola v Comune di Pavia [1990] ECR I-191

When you are searching the ECR it is vital to select the correct sequence as both use the same volume numbers and pagination e.g. there will be two page 191s in the 1990 volumes, one in sequence I and the other in II.

Indexes to the ECR

The ECR’s indexes are ogranised by:

  • party names
  • subject
  • EC legislation judicially considered
  • judgment date
  • case number

Each individual volume of the ECR has an index at the front covering judgments within the volume. Up to 1995 these indexes were reprinted in a single annual index, either in the final volume, or after 1989 in a separate index volume. Unfortunately, the annual indexes have not been amalgamated. This means that to conduct a search (for example for cases in a particularly subject area) you need to check every annual index.

After 1995 the situation becomes more complicated as the indexes are not cumulated at the end of the year. This means that to search the indexes you will need to look at the index in the front of every volume.

Common Market Law Reports (CMLR) - Euro Comm 100 C734

The Common Market Law Reports is a commercial series that reports the most significant cases from the EU courts, from the EC Commission and from national courts of the member states (e.g. UK cases applying EC law) and the EFTA court.

The CMLR began in 1962. In 1989 anti trust law cases were separated into a separate series called the Anti Trust Reports.

The CMLRs are organised by year of judgment. The ECRs are also organised by year of judgment, which makes it relatively easy to find judgments in the CMLR using ECR citations and vice versa. This can be extremely useful as many law firms only take one of these series. Within each year, the CMLR is broken down into 3 volumes, with a further 3 volumes of Anti Trust Reports.

CMLR are cited 
[year of judgment] vol number CMLR page number 
e.g. [1990] 3 CMLR 183

Indexes to the CMLR

The CMLR indexes allow you to search by:

  • party name
  • chronologically by case number
  • subject
  • treaty or regulations judicially considered
  • statutes cited (organised by country)

Each individual volume of the CMLR has an index at the front covering judgments within that volume. The third annual volume also has a chronological table of all cases for the year. However, to search by party names, subject or legislation, you must check every volume.

Other sources of EU case law

All England Law Reports (European Cases) includes judgments from the ECJ, CFI, EC Commission, the EFTA Court and important decisions in the national courts and tribunals of the member states (e.g. English, Scottish and Irish Cases). It is shelved at Euro Comm 100 A10.

The Times and Financial Times include summaries of recent decisions.

Halsbury's Laws of England has a chronological table of ECJ/EUCJ decisions in the Consolidated Table of Cases.

The Digest includes selected European case law as well as English and selected Scottish, Irish and Commonwealth case law.

EU Legislation

The OJ is the official source of EU legislation and carries the full text of the treaties (in the C series) and secondary legislation (in the L series).

To find secondary legislation you should use the Annual Index to the OJ for the appropriate year. The first part of the index comprises a subject index. The second part includes methodological tables where you can find secondary legislation by document number. All Directives, Regulations etc have document numbers before the title, eg Council Directive No 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time...

The legislation section of the Index is divided into:

  • “Acts whose publication is obligatory” – regulations and directives made under the EC treaty
  • “Acts whose publication is not obligatory” – directives (other than the directives made under the EC treaty) and decisions.

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