What Do Advocates General Do?

Prapared by: Ege Derin UTKULAR

       The judges of European Court of Justice (EU Court or Court) are assisted by nine Advocates General who are responsible for presenting a legal opinion on the cases assigned to them. They can question the parties involved and then give their opinion on a legal solution to the case before the judges deliberate and deliver their judgment. The intention behind having Advocates General attached is to provide independent and impartial opinions concerning the Court’s cases. Unlike the Court’s judgments, the written opinions of the Advocates General are the works of a single    author and are consequently generally more readable and deal with the legal issues more comprehensively than the Court. The opinions of the    Advocates General are advisory and do not bind the Court, but they are nonetheless very influential and are followed in the majority of cases As of  2003, Advocates General are only required to give an opinion if the Court considers the case raises a new point of law.

            Advocates General play a particularly important role during the final stages of an EU Court case, as they have to give an official opinion on the case before the presiding judge makes a definitive ruling. As judges tend to follow these opinions, interested parties in court cases take their views very seriously indeed

            There are currently eight Advocates General: one each for France, the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain and three for the other 22 countries, appointed on a rotating basis. If it is ratified, the Lisbon Treaty would see the total number increase to 11, with Poland obtaining a permanent Advocate General and the number rotating between the other member states increasing to five.