Monday, October 29, 2012

Last Week In Luxembourg

For some reason, it was necessary for the Grand Chamber to reaffirm the 2009  Sturgeon judgment. (Both Sturgeon and this week’s judgment are by Judge Malenovský.) Three hours delay is still the cutoff, and airlines can still get out of the obligation to pay compensation only in extraordinary circumstances. Joined Cases Nelson v. Lufthansa and R. (on the application of TUI Travel et al.) v. Civil Aviation Authority Cf. EurActiv and Recent Developments in European Consumer Law Blog

The Grand Chamber (Judge Arabadijev) also did some more Portuguese car insurance law, holding that Directives 72/166, 84/5 and 90/232 “do not preclude national provisions which, where two motor vehicles collide giving rise to personal injury to the passenger in one of the vehicles and the event is not attributable to the fault of the drivers of those vehicles, [but to the fact that the passenger wasn’t wearing his seat belt] allows the civil liability of the insured persons to be limited or excluded.” Almeida v. Carvalheira et al.

The first judgment is in of the infringement proceedings brought against half of Europe regarding the First Railway Package. Predictably, Portugal lost (Judge Borg Barthet). Commission v. Portugal Cf. here for my discussion of the AG’s opinions in these cases.

Following AG Jääskinen’s opinion in April, the Court (Judge Safjan) finally sorted out what to do with the German “Negative Feststellungsklage”, i.e. the suit that asks the Court to say that no liability in tort exists. Unlike the AG, however, the Court decides that this kind of suit does fall under art. 5(3) of Regulation 44/2001. Folien Fischer and Fofitec v. Ritrama

In the wake of the recent Dutch studiefinanciering case, the Court (Judge Prechal) follows AG Cruz Villalón and holds that a Belgian measure which gives allowances for young persons seeking their first job only to persons who have spent the last six years in Belgium should be considered in violation of the free movement of workers. Prete v. Office national de l’emploi

France did not transpose Directive 2003/96 on the taxation of electricity in time, leaving in place the possibility for municipalities or departments to set a tax higher than the minimum established by law, rather than enacting a uniform tariff for the entire country. Commission v. France (FR)

AG Jääskinen proposes some clarifications of the Authorisation Directive – Directive 2002/20 – in the context of a dispute between the Belgian mobile telecom operators and the Belgian government. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to sort out which side benefits from the interpretation he proposes. Belgacom et al. v. Belgium

AG Mengozzi does some car insurance law in Csonka et al. v. Állam (NL, DE, FR), where he proposes a reading of the law that the Hungarian government will like: the Member State does not have to stand in for an insolvent insurance company. At the same time, the AG emphasized that you can’t use a prejudicial question procedure to get the ECJ to decide whether the national law infringes EU law.

AG Cruz Villalón also takes a look at Hungarian car insurance, albeit in the context of competition law. First of all, in par. 20-48, he proposes a narrow reading of the case law on the admissibility of purely internal questions where they rely on concepts derived from EU law, as it was applied only last week by the Court in Punch Graphix (par. 27). Alternatively, the AG proposes that the contracts in question unlawfully reduce competition in the car repairs market, but not the insurance market. Allianz Hungária et al. v. Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (NL, DE, FR)

The General Court annulled the asset freezes of two companies accused of being involved in Iran’s nuclear proliferation programme for failure to state (adequate) reasons. CF Sharp Shipping v. Council and Oil Turbo Compressor Co. v. Council (NL, DE, FR)

Finally, I came across an interesting recent journal article this week about free movement of goods law by Gareth Davies. The fun isn’t in the substantive law he discusses, but in the approach he takes to distilling meaning out of a body of case law. (Cf. p. 25-27, in particular.) Other reading tips include this blog post by Deirdre Curtin about the future of Kadi-litigation and this summary of a high-level conference in Luxembourg about the future of ECJ-ECtHR collaboration. (Key quote: “speakers like Hans Nilsson from the Council of the EU do not expect the accession to enter into force until the end of the decade.”)

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