The General Court has handed down a number of interesting judgments lately and we need to catch up after a blogging hiatus.
Let’s start with the judgment of 22 April 2015 in Case T‑320/09 Planet AE Anonymi Etairia Parochis Simvouleftikon Ipiresion v Commission, EU:T:2015:223, in which the Court annulled a series of decisions of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) requesting the applicant’s registration in the early warning system (‘EWS’) put in place to ostensibly protect the EU’s financial interests.
The interest of the case lies in the fact that the judgment is a sort of text book case of judicial review. The Court annulled the Commission decisions taken by OLAF on a number of grounds:
- the Commission had no powers to adopt the measures challenged,
- the Commission breached the fundamental rights of the applicant,
- the decisions were not properly reasoned.
The Court of Justice’s recent judgment in Joined Cases C-129/13 and C-130/13 Kamino International Logistics EU:C:2014:2041 deals with three important aspects of how national and EU law interact:
- Whether the principle of respect for the rights of the defence by the national authorities and the resulting right of every person to be heard before the adoption of any decision liable adversely to affect his interests, when those national authorities act as required by EU law, may be relied on directly by individuals before national courts.
- Whether the principle of respect for the rights of the defence and, in particular, the right of every person to be heard before the adoption of an adverse individual measure means that the rights of defence of the addressee of an adverse decision, are infringed if he has not been heard by the authorities before the adoption of the decision, even though he may express his views during a subsequent administrative objection stage.
- Whether the legal consequences of infringements by the authorities of the principle of respect for the rights of the defence are governed by national law and what circumstances may be taken into account by the national court in the context of its review. In particular, may the national court take into consideration whether the result of the decision-making process would have been the same, had the right to be heard before it been observed ?
The General Court’s judgment in Case T-30/10 Reagens SpA v Commission EU:T:2014:253 (alternative link here) doesn’t really break new ground. But it does remind applicants of a few basic truths. In some ways you can sense the impatience of the Court with applicants who forget them.
First, the Court reminds everyone that if you make a plea, you have to argue it and substantiate it. Mere assertions don’t work.
Second, don’t just complain about the duration of administrative proceedings: show how it affected your rights of the defence. Continue reading
The Court of Justice does not often reduce a fine imposed by the Commission on an undertaking for a breach of the competition rules when the amount of the fine has been upheld by the General Court. The judgment of 27 March 2014 in Case C-612/12 P Balast Nedam NV v Commission EU:C:2014:193 is, however, such a case. The Court of Justice reduced the fine on appeal not because the General Court had exercised its unlimited jurisdiction on fines improperly but because the General Court had failed to take sufficient account of a substantive problem with the Commission’s decision relating to the company’s rights of the defence.
Let us see in more detail.
In the following posts we are going to have a look at the saga of the Eurallumina cases, and in particular the judgments of the Court of Justice in Case C-89/08 P of 2 December 2009 and Case C-272/12 P of 10 December 2013 Commission v Ireland and Others. These judgments touch upon important principles of EU law such as legal certainty, the duty to state reasons, the ability of the EU Courts to raise pleas sua sponte, the right of the parties to be heard, the protection of legitimate expectations and the presumption of legality of EU measures as well interesting issues such as the relationship between tax harmonisation and monitoring of State aid and the separation of powers between the Council and the Commission.