The Court of Justice has recently published its statistics for 2007 in a press release.
There's cause for celebration and cause for concern too.
Things at the Court of Justice are looking pretty good. It received the highest number of new cases ever in 2007 - 508 - (except for 1979 when it took on 1,324 new cases but many of those were related action) and dealt with 551 cases in 2007 compared with 503 in 2006 (taking account of the joinder of cases). The important thing is that the average duration of preliminary ruling proceedings was 19.3 months in 2007, as against 23.5 months in 2004. In 2007 the average time taken to deal with references for a preliminary ruling reached its shortest since 1995.
Interestingly, the Court made significantly more frequent use of the possibility of judging cases without an Opinion of the Advocate General since about 43% of the judgments delivered in 2007 were delivered without an Opinion (33% in 2006).
At the Court of First Instance, however, things are not so rosy. Case load has increased significantly, for a start: 522 cases were brought in 2007, compared with 432 in 2006. The number of cases completed went down (397 in 2007 as against 436 in 2006). The press release states:
Conscious of this situation, the Court of First Instance has embarked upon detailed consideration of its operation and working methods in order to improve its efficiency. In this context, it has already been considered necessary to alter the way in which the Court is organised, in particular so as to derive greater advantage from the increase in the number of its Members. Thus, since 25 September 2007 the Court has comprised eight Chambers, of three Judges or, where the importance of the case so justifies, five Judges (extended composition).
All this has to be seen in the light of the discussions on the creation of specialist tribunals to speed things up, such as a Competition tribunal.
For last year's statistics, see here.