This Practice Direction supplements CPR Part 68

Wording of references

1.1   Where the court intends to refer a question to the European Court it may direct the parties to produce a draft of the reference but responsibility for the terms of the reference lies with the court making the reference and not with the parties.

1.2 As to the content of the reference, attention is drawn to Article 94 of the European Court Procedure Rules and to paragraphs 20 to 28 of the European Court’s 'Recommendations to national courts and tribunals in relation to the initiation of preliminary ruling proceedings' (as published on 6 November 2012), both of which are available on the European Court’s website at

1.3  In particular:

(1) the reference must identify as clearly and succinctly as possible the questions on which the court seeks the ruling of the European Court;

(2) it must contain a summary of the subject-matter of the dispute and the relevant findings of fact, or at least an account of the facts on which the questions are based;

(3) it must identify, with precise references, the applicable provisions of national law and any relevant national case-law;

(4) it must contain a clear statement of the reasons why the court considers that the questions need to be addressed;

(5) it may include a brief statement of the court’s view on the answer to be given to the questions referred.

1.4 Where the court has given a judgment relating to the subject matter of the reference, only those parts of the judgment directly relevant to the question on which a ruling is sought should be incorporated or summarised in the reference.

1.5 In choosing the wording of the reference, it should be remembered that it will be translated within the European Court into the other official languages prior to circulation. A reference in excess of 20 pages in length will be summarised for the purposes of translation, and it is only the translated summary that will be circulated. In order to avoid the risk that elements of the court’s reasoning are lost in the process of summarising, it is important to ensure that a reference is under 20 pages in length.

1.6 The European Court does not encourage national courts to send additional documents in support of a reference. Any such documents will remain in a file and will not be translated or circulated. If there is a need to send supporting documents, a list of those documents must be included within the reference itself in order that their existence is known to the Members of the Court.

Transmission to the European Court

2.1 Documents required by the rules to be sent to the Senior Master for onward transmission to the European Court must be sent care of Queen’s Bench Division Associates’ Department, Room WG03, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.

2.2  If it is necessary to send any supporting documents to the European Court, the parties should prepare a bundle of such documents to be sent direct to the Registrar of the European Court.

Ministry of Justice


Get email alerts
Find a form
Find a court form