Case Notes: Locus standi and the European Court of Justice: a faint light on the horizon?

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In this case the European Commission appealed to the European Court of Justice against a ground-breaking judgment by the Court of First Instance on the issue of locus standi. That judgment had been delivered in Case T-177/01 Jégo Quéré et Cie SA v The Commission of the European Communities.1 Jégo Quéré was a French fishing company. It had lodged an application before the Court of First Instance, grounded on Article 230 of the EC Treaty, in which it sought to annul Articles 3(d) and 5 of Commission Regulation 1162/2001. This was a regulation adopted by the European Commission under powers conferred upon it by Article 15 of Council Regulation 3760/92.  Article 15 authorised the European Commission to take emergency measures in situations in which the conservation of fish stocks was threatened by a serious and unexpected upheaval.

In December 2000 both the Commission and the Council of the European Union had been advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea of an urgent need to put in place plans through which to achieve a recovery in stocks of hake. The Commission responded by adopting Commission Regulation 1162/2001.  Jégo Quéré owned four fishing boats that were each over 30 metres in length and which used nets with a mesh size of 80 millimetres. These boats regularly fished in waters south of Ireland where whiting constituted, on average, 67 per cent of their catch. Articles 3(d) and 5 of Commission Regulation 1162/2001 applied to all boats of 12 metres or more in length that left port for 24 hours or more. The Articles prohibited such boats from using nets with a mesh size of less than 100 millimetres when fishing in particular waters south of Ireland. Jégo Quéré claimed that these restrictions had a negative impact on their business by making it very difficult for them to catch small whiting. They argued that Articles 3(d) and 5 ought to be annulled as being disproportionate and discriminatory.

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