THE ADVOCATE GENERAL AND EC LAW by N. BURROWS AND R. GREAVES

AuthorJO SHAW
Publication Date01 Dec 2008
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00450_7.x
THE ADVOCATE GENERAL AND EC LAW by N. BURROWS AND R.
GREAVES
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, 456 pp., £60.00)
Article 222 of the Treaty establishing the European Community provides
that `The Court of Justice shall be assisted by eight Advocates-General'. The
Treaty goes on to state that `it shall be the duty of the Advocate-General,
acting with complete impartiality and independence, to make, in open court,
reasoned submissions on cases which, in accordance with the Statute of the
Court of Justice, require his involvement.' The work of the Advocate
General (AG) forms part of the larger story of the role of the European Court
of Justice in the overall administration of justice in the EU context which ±
as the EC Treaty notes ± is to `ensure that in the interpretation and
administration of [the] Treaty the law is observed' (Article 224 EC).
Noreen Burrows and Rosa Greaves of the University of Glasgow have
written a fascinating study of this relatively little known `institution'. Their
objectives (p. 1) are to explain the potential significance of the submissions
of the Advocate General (AG) in the context of the Court's procedure, to
answer the question whether the AG truly does `assist' the Court of Justice,
and to assess the contribution of the AG in developing principles of
European Community law. The AG is not an institution which is familiar in
the context of common law court procedure; indeed, in the precise form in
which it exists in the Court of Justice, it is unique, although there are related
institutions in some national courts, notably the Commissaire du
Gouvernement within the Conseil d'Etat in France. It is also widely
misunderstood, not so much by lawyers, but certainly by the wider public
whose main information comes from the non-specialist press rather than
from lawyers as such. The AG's Opinion is often referred to in press reports
as some type of preliminary view or first-instance ruling, or sometimes she
or he is referred to as the Court's `advisor', which is not strictly correct.
Unfortunately, the subtleties of the precise relationship between the AG's
Opinion and the Court's judgment do little to foster a wider public
appreciation of the role of the Court of Justice in the context of European
integration.
The introductory parts of the book comprise a presentation of the
institution of the AG, including details of how the numbers have grown from
two (in the context of a Court of seven judges) in the 1950s to eight (in the
context of a Court of 27 judges) in the 2000s, which gives historical depth
and understanding to how the function and work (and workload) of the AG
has developed over the years. This is accompanied by a provocative
exposition of a key question which will increasingly be faced by the Court of
Justice (and the member states as the formal masters of the treaties) as the
relationship between the EU legal order and that of the European Convention
on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms evolves in the coming years.
This concerns the relationship between the AG's work and human rights
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ß2008 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2008 Cardiff University Law School

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