The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the highest court of the European Union (EU). It is the dominant legal authority with prevailing influence on EU law. This ultimate authority ensures that all member states receive equal application of the law. The court is composed of one judge per member state.
The court is assisted by the Court of First Instance, a lower court, which has jurisdiction over direct actions brought by natural or legal persons. Its previous jurisdiction over staff cases brought by offices of the European Institutions and agencies was transferred to the Civil Service Tribunal.
The Court was instituted as a permanent court with full-time judges on 1 November 1998. It took the place of the existing enforcement mechanisms at that time, which included the European Commission of Human Rights (created in 1954) and the European Court of Human Rights (created in 1959). The body was established in 1952 and is based in Luxembourg City The European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice are two separate entities with separate jurisdictions. The European Court of Human Rights sits in Strasbourg.
The European Court of Justice sits in Luxembourg. After the European Court of Human Rights was established, the European Commission of Human Rights was also established in an effort to decrease the caseload of the European Court of Human Rights by filtering out some cases and attempting to resolve others by conciliation.
On 31 october 1998, a single court of Human Rights replaced both two courts. All UK courts are bound by the European Court of Justice in matters of interpretation of EC treaties themselves and on the interpretation and validity of regulations and directives.