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Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 1385/2000/IP against the Court of Justice of the European Communities


Strasbourg, 5 September 2001

Dear Mr G.,

On 3 November 2000, you made a complaint to the European Ombudsman concerning the Court of Justice of the European Communities' handling of your application to open competition CJ/LA/3 organised by the institution.

On 7 December 2000, I forwarded the complaint to the President of the Court of Justice. Due to some transmission problems, it appeared that part of the text of the complaint was missing. The Ombudsman's services contacted you on 16 January 2001 and on 1 February 2001. On 23 February 2001, you faxed the full text of your complaint. A copy of it was forwarded to the Court of Justice on 2 March 2001. In the meantime, on 19 February 2001, the institution has requested to postpone the deadline for sending its opinion to the Ombudsman, originally foreseen by the end of March 2001. The Ombudsman agreed to this request and a new deadline of 31 May 2001 was fixed. The Court of Justice sent its opinion on 28 May 2001, and I forwarded it to you with an invitation to make observations, if you so wished. No observations appear to have been received from you.

I am writing now to let you know the results of the inquiries that have been made.


THE COMPLAINT

The complainant applied to participate in competition CJ/LA/3 organised by the Court Justice of the European Communities (hereinafter CJEC) for the establishment of a reserve list for the recruitment of lawyers-linguists of Spanish mother tongue.

On 23 October 2000, the complainant contacted the CJEC's competition service to know the date of the written tests. He was informed that the written tests had taken place on 20-21 October 2000.

According to the responsible official, a letter of invitation to participate to the tests had been sent to the complainant on 21 September 2000.

The complainant claimed that he had never received this letter and asked about means of appeal and if there could be a possibility to repeat the tests. He was told that the tests were already over and that in view of these circumstances it was not possible to do anything.

The complainant therefore lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman in which he alleged that he did not receive any notification letter from the CJEC concerning his admission to the written tests and that this kind of letter should be sent by registered mail.

THE INQUIRY

The opinion of the Court of Justice

In its opinion, the CJEC referred to the notice of competition which indicated that candidates would be invited to the written test by letter.

The CJEC pointed out that neither the Staff Regulations nor any other provision specify the means for such notification. Following the practice in other institutions, the CJEC's Personnel Department sends this kind of letters by normal mail.

In the past, letters concerning competitions had been sent by registered mail. However, it was then considered that this practice should be discontinued, for several reasons.

Firstly, it was noted that in some countries the postal services keep letters sent by registered mail during a long period when the letter cannot be delivered in the hands of recipients. The institutions were not promptly informed thereof and the result was the impossibility for their services to try to contact those candidates whose letters were returned later on by other means.

Secondly, sending invitations to attend tests by registered mail would entail both supplementary work due to the usually very large number of candidates normally in this kind of competition and additional expenses for the administration.

It appeared therefore that sending invitations to attend tests by normal mail struck an appropriate balance between the interest of the candidates and that of the institutions.

Furthermore, the CJEC stressed that the notice of competition to which the complainant applied, indicated the provisional timetable of the recruitment procedure. The purpose of such information is to enable candidates to follow the evolution of the procedure and, if they consider it necessary, to question the institution's Personnel Department.

The complainant's observations

The CJEC's opinion was forwarded to the complainant for observations. No observations appear to have been received by the Ombudsman.

THE DECISION

1 Notification letters sent to candidates

1.1 The complainant, who applied to participate in competition CJ/LA/3 organised by the CJEC, alleged that he did not receive any notification letter from the CJEC concerning his admission to the written tests and that this kind of letter should be sent by registered mail.

1.2 The CJEC pointed out that neither the Staff Regulations nor any other provision specify the means for such notification. Moreover, the institution stressed that although in the past, letters concerning competitions had been sent by registered mail, this practice has been discontinued. Sending invitations to attend tests by registered mail would entail both supplementary work due to the usually very large number of candidates in this kind of competition and additional expenses for the administration. Furthermore, candidates always have the possibility to inquire about the progress of a competition by contacting the competition's services of the institution concerned, when they have not heard from the Selection Board for some time.

1.3 The Ombudsman considers that the explanation given by the CJEC for its choice of the method of communication with candidates is reasonable. On the basis of the above, there appears to have been no maladministration by the CJEC in this case.

2 Conclusion

On the basis of the Ombudsman's inquiries into this complaint, there appears to have been no maladministration by the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Ombudsman therefore closes the case.

The President of the Court of Justice of the European Communities will also be informed of this decision.

Yours sincerely,

 

Jacob SÖDERMAN