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European & Scandinavian/Nordic countries: legal resources: Cases

Subjects: Law - Foreign Law

Case Law in Civil Law Tradition

If you come from a common law background, you need to understand that our view of the role of case law is not universally held.
In the civil law tradition, case law is not necessarily accounted a formal source of law, nor the binding nature of precedent (stare decisis) apply: do spend some time finding out how each jurisdiction actually handles case law.

Another stricking feature - to Anglo-American lawyers - is the absence of party names: decisions are often anonymised to protect privacy.


ECLI is a uniform identifier (neutral citation system) that has the same recognizable format for all Member States and EU courts. It is composed of five, mandatory, elements:

  • ‘ECLI’: to identify the identifier as being a European Case Law Identifier;
  • the country code;
  • the code of the court that rendered the judgment;
  • the year the judgment was rendered;
  • an ordinal number, up to 25 alphanumeric characters, in a format that is decided upon by each Member State. Dots are allowed, but not other punctuation marks.

The elements are separated by a colon. For example, 2009 decisions of the Hoge Raad (Supreme Court of the Netherlands) would start:


Jurisdiction based information

For information based on each jurisdiction, and links to sources of case law, please use the pages under the Jurisdictions tab