• In the case of Case C-465/93 Atlanta [1995] ECR I-3761, it was reaffirmed by the European Court of Justice that where they have already ruled Community law to be valid, a national court is not able to grant interim relief of such.

Facts of Case C-465/93 Atlanta [1995] ECR I-3761

  • Article 189 EC does not preclude national courts from granting interim relief to settle or regulation disputes as to national measures pursuant to Community law which is subject to preliminary ruling on its validity
  • Banana importers ought to challenge the import quota granted by their national state, Germany, based on Council Regulation (EEC) No 404/93
  • They challenged the Regulation’s validity and sought interim relief to grant an additional quota on top of what the German law granted
  • In the previous judgment of Case C-280/93 R Germany v Council [1993] ECR I-3667, the ECJ held that the conditions to grant interim measures (likely damage economically and socially, nationally) were not met and thus dismissed an application for interim relief

Issues in Case C-465/93 Atlanta [1995] ECR I-3761

  • Did the prior ruling of the European Court of Justice apply to the present case?

Held by the European Court of Justice

Gave the same answer as previously. As with the prior judgment, interim relief must be denied where the applicants are unable to distinguish their specific situations from that of a larger sector.

Findings of the Court

The present case concerned a grant of positive interim relief

  • “In the present proceedings for a preliminary ruling, the national court asks the Court for a ruling, not on the question of suspension of enforcement of a national measure adopted on the basis of a Community regulation, but on the making of a positive order provisionally disapplying that regulation.” [26]

The conditions for the national courts to find suspension of the measure to be granted:

  • “only if that court entertains serious doubts as to the validity of the Community act and, where the validity of the contested measure is not already in issue before the Court of Justice, itself refers that question to the Court; if there is urgency and a threat of serious and irreparable damage to the applicant; and if the national court takes due account of the Community interest” [32]

And this will include “when a national court orders any interim relief, including a positive measure rendering the regulation whose validity is challenged provisionally inapplicable as regards the individual.” [33] – as with the present case

Where there has been a previous decision made by the ECJ, “the national court is obliged under Article 5 of the Treaty to respect what the Community court has decided on the questions at issue before it.” [46]; furthermore:

  • No longer can the national court order such measures “if the Court of Justice has dismissed on the merits an action for annulment of the regulation in question or has held, in the context of a reference for a preliminary ruling on validity, that the reference disclosed nothing to affect the validity of that regulation” [46]
  • Unless the grounds differ to those rejected previously [46]