Friday, November 23, 2012

Last Week and This Week in Luxembourg

In rail transport news, the Court (Judge Borg Barthet) took the same approach in Westbahn v. ÖBB-Infrastruktur that AG Jääskinen did. That is to say, the Court resolved the problem in favour of more competition and a better service for passengers. I discussed the issues of the case here in June, i.e. before the AG published his opinion. Cf. also Recent Developments in European Consumer Law Blog

Moving on to air transport, the Court gave some more details on the rights of passengers. In Moré v. KLM, it held that the limitation period for a claim for damages due to denied board is that of the law of the Member State, not the 2 year limit of the Montreal Convention. At the same time, in Sánchez et al. v. Iberia, the Court invoked the Montreal Convention to protect the right of passengers to sue for lost or damaged baggage. Both judgements are by Judge Šváby. Cf. Recent Developments in European Consumer Law Blog

E.On lost its appeal against the decision by the General Court to uphold the fine imposed by the Commission for a broken seal. This may well have been the most expensive seal in history, because it cost E.On € 38 million. E.On v. Commission (Judge Lenaerts)

In terrorism/asset-freeze law, the Court gave the Council and the Member States some more leeway again. In Stichting Al-Aqsa v. Council, the Court (Judge Von Danwitz) forgave the Council a rather significant procedural SNAFU. (The General Court ruling to the contrary is here.) And in Council v. Bamba, the Court (Judge Lenaerts) is more generous than the General Court about the factual reasons offered by the Council for its decision to impose an asset freeze on Ms. Bamba for her involvement in the Gbagbo regime in Ivory Coast. Cf. Verfassungsblog (in German)

In Gothaer Allgemeine Versicherung et al. v. Samskip, the Court (Judge Lenaerts) is having some fun with international jurisdiction: the relevant contract purports to give jurisdiction to Icelandic courts. The plaintiffs sued in Belgium, where the courts – on appeal – held that they did not have jurisdiction, because the case should have been brought in Iceland. So the plaintiffs sued in Germany. Question? Is the German court bound by the Belgian determination that the case should go to Iceland? The Court says it is, relying on art. 32 and 33 of Regulation 44/2001.

There was another case on medical devices. The holding is that “the concept of ‘medical device’ covers an object conceived by its manufacturer to be used for human beings for the purpose of investigation of a physiological process only if it is intended for a medical purpose.” Brain Products v. BioSemi et al. (Judge Juhász)

Eur-Lex has started publishing Court orders on its main jurisprudence page as well, and it is interesting to see the Court (Judge Lõhmus) kicking out a Romanian prejudicial question about a salary decrease for public officials as manifestly inadmissible. Apparently, prejudicial questions are starting to become a work-load problem for the Court, and it will be interesting to see if they respond by kicking more questions out at an early stage. Corpul Naţional al Poliţiştilor – Biroul Executiv Central v. Ministerul Administraţiei şi Internelor et al. (FR)

Similarly, the action for annulment in Städter v. ECB (DE, FR) is also summarily rejected because it is untimely. Cf. art. 181 of the new Rules of Procedure. (Judge Fernlund)

In Commission v. Systran (NL, DE, FR), AG Cruz Villalón argued that the General Court was wrong to decide that it had jurisdiction to decide the case. (Cf. here.) While Systran, the original applicant, brought the action in tort, he argued that it is better viewed as a contractual dispute that should be heard by the national courts in Luxembourg. (Cf. art. 340 TFEU.) The Commission allegedly violated the copyrights of certain computer programmes it purchased.

In Sweetman et al. v. An Board Pleanala AG Sharpston discussed the precautionary principle in the context of the Habitats Directive.

In the infringement case of Commission v. Poland, AG Cruz Villalón argued that the Commission had “moved the goalposts” since its reasoned opinion, meaning that the action should be declared inadmissible for most of its heads of complaint. (In the alternative, the AG argues that Poland should lose.)

The General Court considered some complaints about two inspection decisions taken by the Commission against companies that produce electricity cables. The Court mostly sides with the Commission, but holds that the decisions were too broad in that the Commission did not have reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement anywhere except in the high voltage underwater cable sector. Nexans v. Commission and Prysmian v. Commission (FR) Cf. Kartellblog (in German)

In competition law, Akzo Nobel won interim relief from the President of the General Court in its attempt to keep certain confidential information confidential. Akzo Nobel v. Commission

Spain lost in its action for annulment of a Commission decision reducing its fishing quotas as compensation/punishment for previous overfishing. Spain v. Commission

Finally, in the UK the Court of Appeals held that the rule that takes away UK citizens’ right to vote after 15 years of living abroad is not a violation of art. 21 TFEU. R. (on the application of Preston) v. Wandsworth LBC Cf. Eutopia Law Blog

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