tuesday, 8 december of 2015

European Court of Justice to double its number of judges to 56 over next four years despite appeal by ministers

Britain must pay £1 million to double the number of judges at a European court in another blow to David Cameron's hopes of reining in the EU.

The UK had tried to block the 'disproportionate' plan to increase the number of judges at the European Court of Justice's General Court from 28 to 56 over the next four years.

Ministers argued there was no need to put so many more judges – who are each paid £158,000 a year – on the bench in Luxembourg to deal with a backlog of cases.

But Britain was left isolated at a meeting of the European Council last Thursday as the only country to vote against the plan – which will begin to come into force next month.

It will cost £9.7 million a year overall to pay for the extra judges, with the UK contributing £935,750 towards this. It is not yet clear if the cash will come from Britain's existing contribution to the court as ministers hope, or if it will require extra funding.

And Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash said last night: 'This vast increase in the number of judges is because the system is out of control, far too complex and undemocratic.

'Our Government doesn't have the will to stop the system, and when we are working with the system we have no influence.'

A Foreign Office spokesman told The Mail on Sunday: 'This decision to double the number of judges is disproportionate, which is why we've been arguing against the proposal.'

The European Council said there were an 'unprecedented' 1,270 pending cases before the General Court in November, up from just 600 in 2010.

It said the plans would save money in the long run, as there are outstanding damages claims worth £19.3 million from those who say their judgments have been delayed.

The General Court is the main venue for cases involving EU law. The higher court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, has ruled against the UK on several occasions.

Last December, The Mail on Sunday revealed how the court landed Britain with a £15 million 'Dracula tax' over imports of garlic. The EU demanded the sum after it was decided that Britain had not charged enough duty on shipments from China.

(Published by Daily Mail, December 6, 2015)

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