Koen Lenaerts elected President of the European Court of Justice

By the editors

On Wednesday Koen Lenaerts was elected President of the European Court of Justice by the Judges of the Court for the term of three years. Mr Lenaerts succeeds Vassilios Skouris who had been president for the last twelve years. Mr Lenaerts is the second Belgian President of the Court after Josse Mertens de Wilmars (1980-1984) and had been Vice-President for the past three years. Also elected: Mr Tizzano as the new Vice-President of the Court and the Presidents of the different chambers.

[Edit: there is an interesting interview with Mr Lenaerts by Wall Street Journal journalist Valentina Pop. You can find it here.]

We take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Lenaerts, Mr Tizzano and the other elected Presidents and discuss some of the institutional and historical aspects of today’s elections.

The President of the Court: important organisational prerogatives

The role of President of the Court is different from that of the other judges. It is rather organisational and more detached from the core business of the Court of writing judgements. The President presides Court meetings and represents the Court (article 9 Rules of Procedure). The President is also in charge of the Registry (article 20 Rules of Procedure). Probably the most important power of the President of the Court is the power to designate a Judge to act as rapporteur in a case (article 15 Rules of Procedure). This is an important power because the Judge-rapporteur effectively writes a judgment in accordance with the deliberations of the chamber. Another important task of the President is presiding the Grand Chamber and the Full Court (article 9 of the Rules of Procedure).

List of past Presidents

# Term President State
1 1952–1958 Massimo Pilotti  Italy
2 1958–1964 Andreas Matthias Donner  Netherlands
3 1964–1967 Charles Léon Hammes  Luxembourg
4 1967–1976 Robert Lecourt  France
5 1976–1980 Hans Kutscher  Germany
6 1980–1984 Josse Mertens de Wilmars  Belgium
7 1984–1988 John Mackenzie-Stuart  United Kingdom
8 1988–1994 Ole Due  Denmark
9 1994–2003 Gil Carlos Rodriguez Iglesias  Spain
10 2003–2015 Vassilios Skouris Greece
11. 2015 – Koen Lenaerts Belgium

Arrivals and departures at the Court

There have also been some departures and new arrivals at the Court. Here is the list:


  • Judge and President Vassilios Skouris (Greece 1999)
  • Judge Aindrias Ó Caoimh (Ireland 2004)
  • Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalón (Spain 2009)


  • Advocate General Michal Bobek (Czech Republic)
  • Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez Bordona (Spain)
  • Judge Eugene Regan (Ireland)
  • Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe (Denmark)
  • Judge Michail Vilaras (Greece)

List of new Presidents of the different chambers

The Court also elected Mr Tizzano as the new Vice-President and new Presidents of the first five chambers (article 12 Rules of Procedure). Mr Wathelet remains First Advocate General. Here is the list:

Vice-President : A. Tizzano
First Chamber : R. Silva de Lapuerta
Second Chamber : M. Ilešič
Third Chamber : L. Bay Larsen
Fourth Chamber : T. von Danwitz
Fifth Chamber : J. L. da Cruz Vilaça
Sixth Chamber : A. Arabadjiev
Seventh Chamber : C. Toader
Eighth Chamber D. Šváby
Ninth Chamber : F. Biltgen
Tenth Chamber : C. Lycourgos

We congratulate the newly elected and wish them best of luck with their new roles!