Peter Oliver

Call 1977 || 2016 (Brussels Bar)
Education
BA (Cantab), Licence spéciale en droit européen (Université Libre de Bruxelles); Ph.D. (Cantab)
Contact

+44 (0)20 7405 7211

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Until February 2014, Peter was a Legal Advisor to the European Commission. During nearly 35 years in the Legal Service of the Commission, he worked in a very wide variety of areas of EU law, including: internal market; agriculture, fisheries and food law; competition; external relations; structural funds and (most recently) the environment.

He devoted approximately half his time to litigation and appeared for the Commission in over 350 cases before the Court of Justice, the General Court and the EFTA Court, essentially in these fields. The other half of his time was devoted to advisory work in each of these areas of law. Through his experience in the Commission, he has acquired an exceptionally broad knowledge of EU law, although he is perhaps best known as an expert on the free movement of goods.

In November 2016, Peter was called to the Brussels Bar (French- speaking Section).

He has written widely about various legal aspects of Brexit, not least in Monckton’s Brexit blog; and he has been mentioned in an article published by the International Bar Association on the legal consequences of a possible Brexit (read here) and a recent article by the IBA on the dispute resolution mechanisms which might be applied between the EU and the UK after Brexit (see here)

He is a Visiting Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Visiting Fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. Also, in September 2017 he was elected a member of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.

Finally, Peter’s book entitled “The Fundamental Rights of Companies: EU, US and International Law Compared” is due to appear with Hart Publishing later this year. In this volume, he considers the fundamental rights of companies under the European Convention on Human Rights, under the EU Treaties and under the American Constitution as well as in international law generally with very frequent references to the main cases in English law. The book covers a very wide variety of fields (e.g. competition law, property, freedom of expression, privacy and even religion). In all these jurisdictions, this field is highly topical, as is illustrated by the recent ruling of the UK Supreme Court in the “Gay Cake case”.

  • Free Movement of Goods and the EU Internal Market

    Peter is one of the leading experts on the free movement of goods and his book on the subject (see the publications section below) is widely regarded as a classic. He is also an expert on the EU internal market more generally. He has appeared in numerous cases in this field, and advised widely on it for many years. Major cases include:

    • British American Tobacco and others v Secretary of State for Health (May 2016), in which Green J in the High Court dismissed a challenge to the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco
    • Case E-16/10 Philip Morris on the legality of a ban on displaying tobacco products in Norway (on behalf of the Commission)
    • Case C-28/09 Commission v Austria where restrictions on transport on the Brenner motorway were held to be contrary to Articles 34 and 35 TFEU (on behalf on the Commission)
  • Environmental Law

    In the last six years of his career in the Commission Legal Service, Peter worked on environmental law, especially the Aarhus Convention and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive as well as on chemicals legislation, including REACH. Major cases include:

    • Case C-279/12 Fish Legal on whether the privatised English water companies are “public authorities” subject to the obligations under Directive 2003/4 on access to environmental information
    • Case 72/12 Altrip on judicial remedies under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive
    • Case C-583/11P Inuit, a highly important ruling on the rules of admissibility of actions for annulment under Article 263, paragraph 4 TFEU
    • Case C-530/11 Commission v United Kingdom where the UK was held to be in breach of its obligation under the EIA Directive to ensure that the costs of environmental litigation are not “prohibitively expensive” (and Case C-260/11 Edwards on the same issue)
    • Case C-515/11 Deutsche Umwelthilfe on Directive 2003/4 on access to environmental information
    • Case C-420/11 Leth on remedies in national courts for the breach of the EIA Directive
    • Case C-416/10 Krizan on the EIA Directive and the right to interim relief in national courts
    • Cases C-14/10 Nickel Institute and C-15/10 Etimine on chemicals
    • Case C-275/09 Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest on the application of the EIA Directive to Brussels airport
    • Case C-266/09 Stichting Natuur en Milieu on the meaning of “environmental information” in Directive 2003/4 on access to environmental information
    • Case C-240/09 “Slovakian Bears” on judicial remedies under the Aarhus Convention
    • Case C-204/09 Flachglas Torgau on whether a Government can act “in a legislative capacity” within the meaning of Directive 2003/4 on access to environmental information
    • Case T-545/11 Greenpeace on whether access could be granted to confidential documents relating to the manufacture of a weed killer
    • Products Regulations 2015. Peter appeared for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in its intervention in support of the defendant.
  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Law

    Peter devoted nearly ten years of his career to this area of the law. His most important judgment in this field was Case T-212/06 Bowland on steps taken by the taken the Commission in relation to an insanitary food processing plant in the North of England. In addition, he appeared in a very large number of earlier cases.

  • Public Health

    Major recent judgments include:

    • British American Tobacco and others v Secretary of State for Health (May 2016), in which Green J in the High Court dismissed a challenge to the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015. Peter appeared for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in its intervention in support of the defendant.
    • Case E-16/10 Philip Morris on the legality of a ban on displaying tobacco products in Norway (on behalf of the Commission)
    • Case C-62/09 Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry on the compatibility with EU pharmaceutical legislation of financial incentives granted by the NHS to encourage doctors to prescribe generic products
    • Case T-52/09 Nycomed Danmark on pharmaceuticals specifically for paediatric use
  • Publications

    Peter’s most important publication is “Free Movement of Goods in the European Union under Articles 34 to 36 TFEU”. He was the sole author of the first three editions, but the fifth and most recent, which dates from 2010 (Hart Publishing), was written with the participation of six others.

    In addition, he has published nearly 90 articles on various aspects of EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights as well as a large number of blog posts. The most recent include:

    • “When, if Ever, Can Restrictions on Free Movement be Justified on Economic Grounds”? 2016 ELRev. 147
    • “Strengthening the Rule of Law in the EU: the Council’s Inaction” Journal of Common Market Studies 2016 vol. 54, number 5 1075-1084 (with Justine Stefanelli)
    • “Competition and Fundamental Rights 2015 Survey” 2016 Journal of Competition Law and Policy (with Thomas Bombois) published 24 November 2016
    • ‘Privacy and Data Protection: the Rights of Economic Actors’ in The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as a Binding Instrument (eds. Bernitz, de Vries and Weatherill, Hart Publishing, 2015) 287
    • ‘Free Movement of Goods in the Labyrinth of Energy Policy and Capacity Mechanisms’ in Capacity Mechanisms in the EU Energy Markets: Law, Policy, and Economics eds. Hancher, de Hauteclocque and Sadowska (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015), 201
    • ‘Privacy and Data Protection: the Rights of Economic Actors’ in The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as a Binding Instrument (eds. Bernitz, de Vries and Weatherill, Hart Publishing,  2015) 287
    • “Companies and their Fundamental Rights: a Comparative Perspective” 2015 64 ICLQ 661
    • “Competition and Fundamental Rights 2014 Survey” 2015 Journal of Competition Law and Policy (online publication with Thomas Bombois
    • “What Purpose does Article 16 of the Charter Serve?” in General Principles of EU Law and European Private Law (ed. Bernitz, Groussot and Schulyok, Wolters Kluwer, 2013) 281
    • “Access to Information and to Justice in EU Environmental Law: The Aarhus Convention ” (36 Fordham International Law Journal (2013), 1423).
  • Languages
    • French (effectively bilingual)
    • German (very high standard)
    • Italian (good)
    • Dutch (passive knowledge)

     

  • Professional Memberships
    • Visiting Fellow, Yale University 2005-6
    • Visiting Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law
    • Member of the Editorial Board, Cahiers de Droit Européen

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