ECLI is the acronym for the European Case Law Identifier. It is used to identify court decisions in the Member States of the European Union. The Council of the European Union called on the Member States to introduce the ECLI in 2011. It is up to each Member State to decide whether to use the ECLI and whether only recent or also older decisions will be assigned an ECLI. In Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court, the five federal supreme courts, the Federal Patent Court and the courts of the federal states (Länder) have joined the ECLI system.

Each decision by the Federal Administrative Court published on this website is given an ECLI. It is a unique identifier of the decision, ensuring its identification at European level.

Citizens can use the ECLI to search for court decisions in European and national decision databases. Moreover, the ECLI – if assigned – allows them to obtain references, summaries, translations and annotations of the decisions.

The ECLI is composed of letters and numbers. It is divided into several sections that are separated by colons, namely the country code, the court code, the year of the decision and the unique identifying number. The identifying number consists of up to 25 characters. It is composed as follows when used by the Federal Administrative Court: The first six digits denote the date on which the decision was pronounced. In seventh place is a letter for the type of decision. "U" stands for judgment (Urteil), "B" for decision (Beschluss) and "G" for court order without oral hearing in a case without factual or legal difficulties equivalent to a judgment (Gerichtsbescheid). It is followed by the case number. At the end, there is an ordinal number to distinguish several decisions of the same type that were issued on the same date. In the case of decisions where the ECLI contains an additional character at the end, for example, the letter D standing for the legal protection against excessive length of the proceedings, the full stop before the ordinal number will be omitted.

An example of an ECLI describing a decision by the Federal Administrative Court in 2017 would be: 'ECLI:DE:BVerwG:2017:250117U9C30.15.0'. The unique identifying number states that the decision was announced on 25 January 2017. This is a judgment issued in the proceedings heard under case number "9 C 30.15". There was no other decision of the same kind on the same day, issued under this case number.

The competence centre Legal Information System of the Federal Government (Kompetenzzentrum Rechtsinformationssystem des Bundes) is the ECLI coordinator for Germany and offers additional information on the ECLI.