open access

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to assess how multilingualism
affects judicial interpretation of EU law. In the EU, the European Court
of Justice is in the position of having the fi nal say on what EU norms
mean. Therefore, the article looks into the case law of that Court. It is
well known that all offi cial EU languages (23 of them at present) are
authentic languages. Less known is what the related consequences
are for interpretation in judicial proceedings. The fi rst aim of the article
is to fi nd out what consequences the ECJ has drawn from this
fact. Secondly, even though in some cases (eg CILFIT) the ECJ has
postulated language comparison as a necessary step in construing
the meaning of EU law, it is clear that such comparisons are not performed
on a regular basis. Therefore, the article looks into when, on
whose initiative, and for what purpose the Court performs a comparison
of the same EU norm(s) expressed in different languages. The
article then looks into what the Court does if discrepancies in different
language versions are found, and concludes that such a problem is
overcome by looking for the purpose of a legal norm. Finally, it is found
that multilingualism does not signifi cantly affect the manner and outcome
of interpretation by the ECJ.