The Maastricht University team just finished competing in the preliminary round of the moot court competition in Leuven, Belgium. We’re pleased with how it went, and, most importantly, we had fun! We find out tonight whether we progress to the semi-finals. Until then we’re catching up on some much needed R&R and dreaming of having the highly anticipated sushi boat for lunch.
Yesterday all of the competitors headed over to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We were quite lucky to listen to the hearing for Commission v. Portugal, which is supposed to be one of the ECJ’s most important decisions this year. The case addresses the scope of the Commission’s powers. Afterwards we met with Judge Lenaerts who is the vice president of the Grand Chamber. The Grand Chamber of the ECJ decides major constitutional issues for the EU, so this was basically equivalent to meeting Chief Justice Roberts.
One of the most impressive aspects of the ECJ is the simultaneous translation of the proceedings. There are sound booths (one for each language) on both sides of the courtroom staffed with translators. The judges and the spectators wear earpieces and select which language they want to listen to the proceedings. The working language of the ECJ is French, but the case was in Portuguese. There were also about 8 other Member States which intervened to support Portugal. Their statements were also presented in their native languages. So, the actual pleadings covered 8 or 9 languages, and then these were translated into English, French, Czech, Spanish, Italian, etc.