Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today in Luxembourg

While I missed it in the email version of this post, the big case is apparently the Spanish evictions case of Aziz v. Caixa d’Estalvis de Catalunya, Tarragona i Manresa (Catalunyacaixa), where the Court (Judge Tizzano) held that the way in which many Spanish mortgage loan contracts arrange for enforcement is unfair under Directive 93/13, meaning that hundreds of thousands of Spanish people have been evicted unlawfully. Cf. Coulisses de Bruxelles

In competition law, there is evidence of a worrying trend towards competition authorities preferring to examine whether an agreement is anticompetitive “by object” before moving on to an effects based test, rather than the other way around, as legal and economic commentators would generally prefer it. In Allianz Hungária et al. v. Gazdasági Versenyhivatal the Court (Judge Ilešič) gives some guidance on the meaning of “by object” in a case that should easily pass any effects-based test. Cf. Hans Vedder on European Law Blog

In environmental law, the Supreme Court of Austria checked with the Court (Judge Bay Larsen) whether an Environmental Impact Assessment under Directive 85/337 is meant to assess impacts to the “substance” of assets or to their value. The result is a fun bit of sparring with what economists call value in use and value in trade. In reply to the second question, the Court explains that a failure to do an EIA does not automatically give rise to civil liability of the state. Leth v. Austria Cf. UK Human Rights Blog, European Law Blog and ECJBlog

Even though managers and owners of SMEs don’t usually deal with banks “in the course of their trade or profession”, they still don’t qualify as consumers for the purposes of articles 5(1)(a) and 15(1) of Regulation 44/2001. Česká spořitelna, a.s. v. Feichter Cf. Recent Developments in European Consumer Law Blog

In the copper fittings cartel case, the appeal of Viega was rejected. Viega v. Commission (DE, FR)

Most interesting for me is this week’s opinion by AG Jääskinen in ÖBB-Personenverkehr, although ultimately the case is less about railway regulation than about the effect of Regulations in EU law. The Regulation in question is Regulation 1371/2007 on passenger rights. The Austrian regulator, the Schienen-Kontrol Kommision, found that ÖBB’s compensation terms were not compliant, and substituted its own scheme. The AG now argues that they were not allowed to do that absent national law authorisation, given that other national law remedies exist.

AG Bot is OK with the Bulgarian approach to handling disputes that arise under Regulation 73/2009, the CAP procedure Regulation. It is permissible for Bulgaria to have them all handled in Sofia, as long as this does not create an excessive burden on (potential) plaintiffs. Agrokonsulting-04-Velko Stoyanov v. Izpalnitelen direktor na Darzhaven fond „Zemedelie” Razplashtatelna agentsia (NL, DE, FR)

In the General Court, President Jaeger granted an order suspending the operation of the Commission’s Decision in the Carglass cartel case until the General Court has decided whether the Commission had erred in declining to keep certain information confidential. Pilkington Group v. Commission

In other cartel news, the General Court (Judge Martins Ribeiro) upheld the Commission’s decision in the bananas cartel case against Dole, whereas Fresh Del Monte had its liability reduced from € 14,7 million to € 8,82 million. (The total fine for Internationale Fruchtimport Gesellschaft Weichert & Co is still € 14,7 but Fresh Del Monte is only jointly and severally liable for € 8,82 million of it.)

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