The Community Court of Justice was created pursuant to the provisions of Articles 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Its Organisational framework, functioning mechanism, powers, and procedure applicable before it are set out in Protocol A/P1/7/91 of 6 July 1991, Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05 of 19 January 2005, Supplementary Protocol A/SP.2/06/06 of 14 June 2006, Regulation of 3 June 2002, and Supplementary Regulation C/REG.2/06/06 of 13 June 2006.
The Court is composed of seven (7) independent Judges who are persons of high moral character, appointed by the Authority of Heads of State of Government, from nationals of Member States, for a four-year term of office, upon recommendation of the Community Judicial council.
The Mandate of the Court is to ensure the observance of law and of the principles of equity and in the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Revised Treat and all other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by Community.
The Court gives legal advisory opinion on any matter that requires interpretation of the Community text.
- The Court examines cases of failure by Member States to honour their obligations under the Community law;
- The Court has competence to adjudicate on any dispute relating to the interpretation and application of acts of the Community;
- The Court adjudicates in disputes between Institutions of the Community and their officials;
- The Court has power to handle cases dealing with liability for or against the Community;
- The Court has jurisdiction to determine cases of violation of human rights that occur in any Member State;
- The Court adjudges and makes declarations on the legality of Regulations, Directives, Decisions, and other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by ECOWAS.
Competence in matters of arbitration
Pending the establishment of an Arbitration tribunal, provided for under Article 16 of the Revised Treaty, the Court has competence to act as Arbitration.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO HAVE ACCES TO THE COURT ?
Access to the Court is open to the following:
- All Member States and the Commission, for actions brought for failure by Member States to fulfil their obligations;
- Member States, the Council of Ministers and the Commission, for determination of the legality of an action in relation to any Community text.
- Individuals and corporate bodies, for any act of the Community which violates the rights of such individuals or corporate bodies;
- Staff of any of the ECOWAS Institutions;
- Persons who are victims of human rights violation occurring in any Member State;
- National courts or parties to a case, when such national courts or parties request that the ECOWAS Court interprets, on preliminary grounds, the meaning of any legal instrument of the Community;
- The Authority of Heads of State and Government, when bringing cases before the Court on issues other than those cited above.
HOW TO ACCESS THE COURT ?
Cases are filed before the Court through written applications addressed to the registry. Such applications must indicate the name of the applicant, the party against whom the proceedings are being instituted, a brief statement of the facts of the case, and the orders being sought by the plaintiff.
The Court applies the Treaty, the Conventions, Protocols and Regulations adopted by the Community and the general principles of law as set out in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
In the area of human rights protection, the Court equally applies, inter alia, international instruments relating to human rights and ratified by the State or States party to the case.
DECISIONS OF THE COURT
Decisions of the Court are not subject to appeal, except in cases of application for revision by the Court; decisions of the Court may also come under objection from third parties. Decisions of the Court are binding and each Member State shall indicate the competent national authority responsible for the enforcement of decisions of the Court.