Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Case C-413/15 Elaine Farrell Judgment of 10 October 2017, the uncertainty as to what constitutes as an ‘emanation of the State’ was clarified.
Facts of Case C-413/15 Elaine Farrell Judgment of 10 October 2017
- Elaine Farrell, C, was injured in a road traffic accident
- She was sat on the van floor, not a place equipped for passengers
- The van driver Whitty was not insured
- The private body Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), under the Irish Road Traffic Act 1961, had to compensate victims in road accidents where the driver was not insured
- So, C claimed compensation from the MIBI
- MIBI refused, stating they would not compensate as the liability for the personal injuries she sustained were not covered under the 1961 Act – where passengers travelled in parts of the vehicle not fitted for passengers
- C claimed the relevant provisions of EU directives concerning insurance regulations were not properly implemented
- The Irish High Court referred the questions to the European Court of Justice, as to Article 1 of the Third Council Directive 90/232/EEC of 14 May 1990
Issues in Case C-413/15 Elaine Farrell Judgment of 10 October 2017
- Did the Directive concerned have direct effect which the C could rely upon against the private law body, MIBI?
- In other words, was MIBI an ‘emanation of state’, of which directives can have direct effect?
Held by the European Court of Justice
Yes, it was an ‘emanation of the state’ and directives can be applied with direct effect against it.
Findings of the Court
The European Court laid down what an ‘emanation of the state’ requires:
- “the conditions that the organisation concerned must, respectively, be subject to the authority or control of the State, and must possess special powers beyond those which result from the normal rules applicable to relations between individuals cannot be conjunctive” 
- “Such organisations or bodies can be distinguished from individuals and must be treated as comparable to the State, either because they are legal persons governed by public law that are part of the State in the broad sense, or because they are subject to the authority or control of a public body, or because they have been required, by such a body, to perform a task in the public interest and have been given, for that purpose, such special powers.” 
Applying these requirements to the present case:
- “a body or an organisation, even one governed by private law, to which a Member State has delegated the performance of a task in the public interest and which possesses for that purpose special powers beyond those which result from the normal rules applicable to relations between individuals is one against which the provisions of a directive that have direct effect may be relied upon” 
- “the task that a compensation body such as MIBI is required by a Member State to perform, a task that contributes to the general objective of victim protection pursued by the EU legislation relating to compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance, must be regarded as a task in the public interest that is inherent, in this case, in the obligation imposed on the Member States by Article 1(4) of the Second Directive.” 
- “The provisions of a directive that are unconditional and sufficiently precise may consequently be relied upon against an organisation such as the MIBI”