On 15 December the Joint Brussels Office of the Law Societies arranged a visit to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Ben Wild and Peter Finney, trainee solicitors currently seconded to the Brussels Office, were joined by a number of trainees from UK and international law firms with a presence in Brussels, and accompanied by Rita Giannini, the Law Society’s EU Policy Advisor for Justice.
The group was treated to a fascinating tour of the ECJ buildings, including the Grand Chamber and its antechamber, the General Court, the judicial deliberation rooms and the library (claimed to be the largest collection of legal literature in the world). There were also briefings from Stanislas Adam, Legal Secretary to Advocate General Sharpston, as well as an assistant to the newly appointed UK General Court Judge Ian Forrester, QC.
After a case briefing from Margaret Lawunmi, legal secretary to Advocate General Sharpston, the group then attended a hearing in front of 15 judges in the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice on the topic of migration (cases C-155/15 – George Karim v Migrationsverket and C- 63/15 - Mehrdad Ghezelbash v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie). The cases concerned asylum seekers under the Dublin III Regulation and the Right to an Effective Remedy, in actions brought against the Swedish and Dutch states, respectively.
The visit culminated in a delightful and informative lunch with Judge Forrester and the UK’s Court of Justice Judge Christopher Vajda, QC, both of whom took the time to chat with the group and answer questions concerning, amongst other topics, the workings of the ECJ, the judicial appointment process and the level of UK engagement through staffing at the ECJ.
The visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended, and the Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office would like to extend a huge thank you to the ECJ and to Messrs Vajda and Forrester, in particular, for welcoming us.