Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Case c 194 94 Cia Security International SA v Signalson SA and Securitel sprl 1996 ECR I 2201, it was held that national laws on technical regulations that were enacted without compliance with notification requirements under Directive 83/189 are disapplied even in a horizontal dispute.
Facts of the Case
- C, a company which produced security systems assembling them in Belgium from components supplied from elsewhere in Europe, applied to the Liege commercial court for orders restraining two other companies form alleged unfair trading practices.
- All three companies were security firms within the meaning of the Belgian Law of April 10th, 1990, which dealt with the approval of alarm systems, the procedure for approval being contained in the Belgian Royal Decree of May 14. 1991.
- C contended that as they had not been communicated to the CEC pursuant to the Council Directive 83/189, the rules were not valid.
- A referral to the ECJ was made for a preliminary ruling on whether the 1990 law and the 1991 decree contained technical regulations which should have been communicated and whether Art.8 and Art.9 of the Directive were unconditional and precise enough for an individual to rely upon them before the national courts.
Issues in Case c 194 94 Cia Security International SA v Signalson SA and Securitel sprl 1996 ECR I 2201
- Did Art.8 and Art.9 create direct effect.
- Should the national laws be disapplied?
Held by European Court of Justice
- Held in favour of CIA security.
- Held that if a tule had a legal effect then under Council directive 83/189, it amounted to a technical regulation.
- The 1991 decree laid down the procedure for the approval of alarm systems and networks, referred to in the 1990 law, and contained detailed rules defining the quality and function tests applicable.
- Those provisions should have been notified as they amounted to technical provisions and (2) Art.8 and Art.9 of the Directive imposed a specific duty on Member States and could be relied upon by individuals before their national court notwithstanding a lack of express provision relating to the effects of non-compliance.
- “A rule such as Article 4 of the Belgian Law of 10 April 1990 on caretaking firms, security firms and internal caretaking services does not constitute a technical regulation within the meaning of Council Directive 83/189/EEC of 28 March 1983 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations, as amended by Council Directive 88/182/EEC of 22 March 1988, whereas provisions such as those contained in the Belgian Royal Decree of 14 May 1991 laying down the procedure for approval of the alarm systems and networks referred to in the Law of 10 April 1990 do constitute technical regulations and classification of a rule such as Article 12 of the Law of 10 April 1990 depends on the legal effects which it has under domestic law. Articles 8 and 9 of Directive 83/189 , as amended by Directive 88/182, are to be interpreted as meaning that individuals may rely on them before the national court which must decline to apply a national technical regulation which has not been notified in accordance with the directive. Article 30 of the EC Treaty does not preclude a national provision such a Article 4 of the Law of 10 April 1990.”[1-3]