The first thing to remember in regard to the regional courts in Europe is that there are two distinct systems. One is connected to the European Union (known for years as the European Communities) and handles issues related to the commercial and social effects of the EU system. The other is related to the Council of Europe and is devoted primarily to human rights and has no relationship to the European Union. There are areas where an outsider might be confused as to which court might take jurisdiction over a dispute. To make things worse, both Lexis and Westlaw have files which combine the decisions of these court systems, reinforcing the temptation to confuse them. It may be helpful to remember that the European Court of Justice (EU) is based in Luxembourg, while the European Court of Human Rights is based in Strasbourg.

The Court System of the European Union

The European court system has evolved over the years. It originally had formal decision-making roles for a commission, for the Advocate-General, and for the Court. This has changed into a two step procedure centering on the Court of the First Instance and the Court itself. Texts which appear as decisions within the European Union judicial system may be from the Commission, the Court of the First Instance, or the European Court of Justice. Older cases may have had an opinion of the Advocate-General as well, but Court has stopped printing them in the official reporter.
The general website http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/j_6/ for the European Union Court System includes a section with recent decisions of the European Court of Justice and the Court of the First Instance.
Since the constitution of the European Union is in fact a sequence of treaties whose cumulative effect has been to been to change earlier texts, there are now specific rules for how to cite the various treaties http://curia.europa.eu/en/content/juris/noteinfo.htm
General Guide: European courts, practice and precedents London : 1997. 2nd Floor, JX1984.E35 Eu74 1997 Decisions: Official reporter Court of Justice of the European Communities, Reports of cases before the court 2nd Floor, JX1984.E3 R32 Decisions: Unofficial reporter Common Market law reports London: Sweet & Maxwell 2nd Floor, JX1982.L3 C73 (Latest UNBOUND issues in 3rd Fl Reserve) LEXIS FILE: ECJ. However it is "Temporarily suspended due to technical difficulties" WESTLAW FILE:
The European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg

The ECHR (http://www.echr.coe.int/echr/) is a product of the European Convention on Human Rights and is administered through the Council of Europe. There used to be a two step commission / court structure, but the commission as a required preliminary hearing was dropped last year and there is now a "single court system".
The adoption of the principles of the convention into domestic law was one of the early objectives of the drafters. Different countries have done this at different speeds. England will be incorporating the Convention into its domestic law later this year, although they signed the treaty in 1950.

  • Decisions: Unofficial Reporter
    • European human rights reports London : Sweet & Maxwell. [Originally] London : European Law Centre Ltd., c1979- (JX4263.P3 Eu74, 2nd Floor, Latest UNBOUND issues in 3rd Fl Reserve)

However, this is an area where the web-based Case law search engine has become the best place to start.