The AECLJ is organised under the law of England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee on a not for profit basis. The Directors of the AECLJ (known as the “Council”) comprise nominated judges from the Member States of the EU. The President of the AECLJ is Judge Marina Tavassi of the Court of Appeal, Milan, Italy. Sir Christopher Bellamy, (who was the first President of the United Kingdom Competition Appeal Tribunal, a former judge of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities and the first President of the AECLJ) is the Honorary President of the AECLJ. The Treasurer is Sir Peter Roth (current President of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal).
The members of the AECLJ have elected an Executive Committee to be primarily responsible for the implementation of the AECLJ’s activities. In addition to the President and Treasurer of the AECLJ, the members of the Executive Committee are the following persons:
Judge Iannis Symplis - Council of State, Greece
Judge Ingeborg Simonsson - Stockholm City Court, Sweden
Judge Irmantas Jarukaitis - Supreme Administrative Court, Lithuania and soon the Court of Justice, EU
Judge Jacqueline Riffault-Silk - Cour de Cassation, France
Judge Kimmo Mikkola - Market Court, Finland
Judge Mads Bundgaard Larsen - Maritime and Commercial High Court, Denmark
Judge Mercedes Pedraz Calvo - La Audencia Nacional, Spain
Judge Sabine Voelkl-Torggler - Competition Tribunal, Austria
Judge Théa Harles-Walch - Court of Appeal, Luxembourg
Judge William McKechnie - The Supreme Court, Ireland
Judge Wolfgang Kirchhoff - Bundesgerichtshof, Germany
The Secretary-General of the AECLJ is Charles Dhanowa, the Registrar of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (United Kingdom) which acts as the Secretariat for the AECLJ and provides administrative support for its activities.
The main purpose of the AECLJ is to provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of competition law among the judiciary across the European Union thereby promoting a coherency and consistency of approach, particularly in the context of the modernisation of the application of Articles 81 and 82 under EC Regulation 1/2003.
Since May 2004, Regulation 1/2003 has “modernised” the enforcement of European competition law placing a renewed emphasis both on public enforcement by national authorities in the Member States and on private actions in the national courts. Both judicial review of the actions of national authorities and conduct of private actions falls to the national judiciaries in the Member States who now have an increased role in the European system of competition law.
The national competition authorities in the European Union meet regularly under the auspices of the European Competition Network (ECN). No similar institutional arrangement was established by the European Union for national judges. While in other fields of harmonised law the European Commission organises conferences where judges can exchange experience, it acts with restraint in the competition law field because the Commission is a competition authority and is mindful of the need to maintain the proper distance between itself and the European judiaries. In the light of their increased role, the national judiciaries have particularly felt the need to be able to meet under the auspices of a body such as the AECLJ in order to discuss issues of common concern and “best practice”.
Since, to a large extent, European competition law is now applied by national judges, it is of vital importance that judges dealing with this field of law in the Member States are able to communicate on an informal level, discussing matters of common concern and enquiring about parallel proceedings. The consistent application of European competition law largely depends on the existence of a network to facilitate such an exchange of experience.