Guidelines on a Reference for Preliminary Ruling
GUIDELINES ON A REFERENCE FROM NATIONAL COURTS FOR A
PRELIMINARY RULING
INFORMATION NOTE
1. General
1. The preliminary ruling system is a fundamental mechanism of East
African Community Law aimed at enabling national courts to ensure uniform
interpretation and application of that law in all the Partner States.
2.
The East African Court of Justice has jurisdiction to give preliminary
rulings on the interpretation of East African Community law and on the validity
of the regulations, directives, decisions or actions of the Community. That
general jurisdiction is conferred on it by Article 34 of the Treaty for the
Establishment of East African Community (the Treaty).
3. While Article 34 of the Treaty confers on the East African Court of Justice
a general jurisdiction, it goes further to direct national courts or tribunals
(national courts) to refer a matter to the Court if it considers that a ruling on
the question concerning the interpretation or application of the provision of the
Treaty is necessary to enable it to give a judgment .
5. The preliminary ruling procedure being based on cooperation between the
East African Court of Justice and national courts, it may be helpful, in order
to ensure that that cooperation is effective, to provide the national courts with
the following information.
6. This practical information is intended to provide guidance to national
courts as to whether it is appropriate to make a reference for a preliminary
ruling and, should they proceed, to help them formulate and submit questions
to the Court.

The role of the East African Court of Justice in the preliminary ruling
procedure
7. Under the preliminary ruling procedure, the Court’s role is to give an
interpretation of East African Community law or to rule on its validity, not to
apply that law to the factual situation underlying the main proceedings, which
is the task of the national court. It is not for the Court either to decide issues
of fact raised in the main proceedings or to resolve difference of opinion on the
interpretation or application of rules of national law.

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