The High Court has today given judgment in claim for damages for breach of Article 35 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In September 2012, following an incident at the Port of Ramsgate in which approximately 40 sheep had to be destroyed, Thanet District Council closed the Port with immediate effect to the transport of live animals. Three transporters of live animals sued the Council, contending that the closure was a restriction on the free movement of goods and could not be imposed under Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 on the transport of live animals, and that the breach was sufficiently serious to warrant an award of damages. In his judgment today, Mr Justice Birss has upheld the claim. He held that Regulation 1/2005 exhaustively harmonised the relevant field and the Council had no power under the Regulation to ban the trade, so that there was a breach of Article 35. On the facts he held that the ban was motivated primarily by a moral objection to the long distance trade in live animals and that breach was sufficiently serious to warrant liability in damages. He noted that the Council was not responsible for the fact that other ports and shipping lines would not take the trade, and the extent of the losses caused by the closure remains to be assessed.
Philip Woolfe appeared for Thanet District Council.
Click here to read the judgment in Barco de Vapor & Ors v Thanet District Council