Court of Appeal grants permission to appeal decision to allow UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

On 4th May the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) was granted permission to appeal against a High Court judgment which allows the UK Government to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. See previous news item here.

The appeal has been expedited to be heard by the Court of Appeal in the Autumn.

Please click here to read the full press release by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the article by The Guardian can be found here.

Conor McCarthy, was instructed by Leigh Day as junior counsel for the Claimant.

Nikolaus Grubeck, was instructed by Debevoise and Plimpton as junior counsel in the proceedings for a coalition of intervenors (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Rights Watch UK).

Airline liable for carrying non-EU citizen without correct papers

On 24 April 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Ryanair v Home Secretary [2018] EWCA Civ 899. The appeal concerned the application of Directive 2004/38/EC, on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states, and the UK carriers liability regime under which airlines may be fined for transporting passengers without the correct documentation into the UK.

In the present case, the passenger had flown from Germany to London on a Ryanair flight with his son, an Austrian citizen. The passenger, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had produced a card issued by the Austrian authorities bearing words which could be translated as: “family member — permanent residency”. When the father arrived (with his son) he was stopped by UK Border Force and refused leave to enter the UK. He explained that he lived in Austria and had been told by a German official that he did not need a visa. The UK Border Force ordered Ryanair to take him back to Germany. The Home Office subsequently confirmed that Ryanair was liable to pay £2,000 under section 40 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, on the basis that one of the passengers had arrived in the UK without appropriate documentation.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that, in order to take advantage of the visa exemption for family members of EU citizens contained in Art 5.2 of the Directive, a passenger had to have a valid residence card issued under Art 10 of the Directive. A valid residence card for the purposes of Art 10 had to bear the words “Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen”. A card purportedly issued without the requisite words might potentially provide powerful evidence of the holder’s right of free movement and so, perhaps, enable him to prove his entitlement “by other means” under Art 5.4. However, a card that did not carry the specified wording would not of itself satisfy Art 5.2. Further, possession of a card issued under Art 20 of the Directive might potentially afford strong evidence of a right of free movement. Where a passenger failed to produce such a document and failed to establish a right of free movement in some other way, the home secretary was entitled to impose a charge on the carrier in respect of a passenger without proper documentation.

In the present case, however, there was no evidence that the card held by the passenger had been applied for or issued under Art 20. It appeared to have been issued pursuant to Austrian domestic law rather than Art 20. Since the passenger had neither produced the documents required by Art 5.2 nor proved by other means that he was covered by the right of free movement, the home secretary had been entitled to impose the £2,000 charge on Ryanair.

The case was reported in the Times Law Reports on 1 May 2018 (read here).

A copy of the judgment is available here.

Kassie Smith QC, instructed by Stephenson Harwood LLP, acted for Ryanair Ltd.

EU Advocate General concludes that UK pension protection rules are contrary to EU law

In her Opinion dated 26 April 2018, Advocate General Kokott concludes that restrictions on the compensation payable by the UK Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to employees of insolvent companies is contrary to Directive 2008/94/EC (the Insolvency Directive).

The Advocate General accepts all of the arguments of the claimant Mr Hampshire, represented by Monckton Chambers’ Gerry Facenna QC and James Bourke. In particular, the Advocate General agrees that (except in cases of abuse) EU law entitles every employee of an insolvent employer to receive at least half of the total value of their accrued pension benefits, including any indexation benefits. The Advocate General also agrees that Article 8 of the Insolvency Directive is directly effective and can therefore be relied on directly against the Pension Protection Fund to override the terms of the Pensions Act 2004, and that in practice this binds the trustees administering any pension scheme that is or has been subject to PPF assessment.

Assuming the Advocate General’s Opinion is followed by the Court of Justice, it will represent a significant victory for Mr Hampshire and hundreds of pensioners who have campaigned against the UK’s pension compensation cap for over a decade. Of potentially even greater significance than the ruling on the cap is the impact of any ruling that pensioners in receipt of PPF compensation must receive at least half of any entitlements to annual increases in their pension. Such a ruling would potentially benefit thousands of PPF members, including those who may have initially received a high percentage of their original pension but who have lost any accrued rights to index-linked or guaranteed annual increases.

The Court of Justice has not yet announced a date for its judgment.

Gerry Facenna QC and James Bourke, instructed by Ivan Walker of Walkers Solicitors, are acting for Mr Hampshire.

A copy of the Advocate General’s Opinion is available here.

A previous news item on the reference by the Court of Appeal is here.

Investigatory Powers Act not ‘general and indiscriminate’, says Divisional Court

The Divisional Court (Singh LJ and Holgate J) has today handed down judgment in judicial review proceedings brought by Liberty, challenging the lawfulness of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The case was identified by the Lawyer Magazine as one of its Top 20 Cases for 2018.

Today’s judgment concerns the compatibility with EU law of Part 4 of the 2016 Act, which contains a regime permitting the Home Secretary to require telecommunications operators to retain specified communications data (that is, data concerning matters such as the duration of telephone calls or emails, but not their content) for up to 12 months. The ability of public authorities to access such retained data can be of vital importance, for instance in criminal investigations.

Following the CJEU’s December 2016 judgment in Tele2/Watson, the Home Secretary had previously conceded that Part 4 of the 2016 Act is incompatible with EU law in two discrete respects, which are the subject of pending amendments to the legislation. The Divisional Court accepted the Home Secretary’s argument that the only appropriate relief in such circumstances was declaratory relief (including a declaration that the 2016 Act should be amended within a reasonable time), and that it was not appropriate to make an order disapplying the offending parts of the 2016 Act, as Liberty maintained.

Liberty also advanced a series of other EU law-based objections to Part 4 of the 2016 Act. These included an allegation that Part 4 is incompatible with EU law because it permits the ‘general and indiscriminate’ retention of communications data, amounting to a serious violation of privacy rights. Liberty contended that these matters should all be referred to the CJEU. However, the Divisional Court agreed with the Secretary of State that it should not make any reference to the CJEU, in some cases because it accepted the Government’s submission that the challenged aspect of the 2016 Act is compatible with EU law, and in other cases because the subject matter of Liberty’s complaint is already covered by a preliminary reference to the CJEU made by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The Divisional Court rejected Liberty’s argument that Part 4 of the 2016 Act permits the ‘general and indiscriminate’ retention of communications data. The Court found that there was no basis for such a complaint, given (among other matters) the statutory requirement for the Home Secretary to be satisfied that retention notices are necessary and proportionate.

A copy of the judgment is available here.

Monckton Chambers’ Gerry Facenna QC and Michael Armitage, led by First Treasury Counsel, acted for the Secretary of State for the Home Department and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

De La Rue abandons blue passport procurement challenge

De La Rue International Limited has today announced that it will not be pursuing its threatened challenge to the award by Her Majesty’ Passport Office of the contract for the production of blue passports to Gemalto UK Limited. Following a two-week extension for the parties to exchange pre-action correspondence and information, the standstill period in the procurement passed at midnight of the 17th/18th April and no claim under the Public Procurement Regulations having been issued, HMPO will be proceeding to enter into the contract.

Philip Moser QC, Alan Bates, Philip Woolfe and Khatija Hafesji of Monckton Chambers acted for HMPO.

Kassie Smith QC and Ligia Osepciu acted for Gemalto UK.

Tax Tribunal rejects test cases brought by the landfill sector

In test cases led by Veolia, Devon Waste and Biffa (who brought two separate appeals), the landfill sector has failed in its bid to claim substantial landfill tax refunds for the entire sector on the basis that layers of soft waste, known as “fluff”, were not intended to be discarded but instead were used to protect the lining of cells receiving waste at landfill sites throughout the UK.

The First-tier Tribunal rejected all four appeals. In so doing, it accepted HMRC’s case that Waste Recycling Group v HMRC [2008] EWCA Civ 849, [2009] STC 200 was decided on its own facts and did not support the Appellants’ case. This is the last in a series of challenges brought by the landfill sector in the Tax Tribunals and the Administrative Court

Link to the cases: here and here

Melanie Hall QC, Brendan McGurk and David Gregory represented HMRC.

CAT refers Paroxetine case to CJEU

In the latest instalment of competition litigation surrounding the issue of ‘Pay for Delay’, the Competition Appeals Tribunal has referred a series of appeals against a decision of the Competition and Markets Authority to the EU Court of Justice.

The CMA had fined GlaxoSmithKline – the patent holder of antidepressant drug, Paroxetine – and a number of generics companies over a series of settlement agreements. Those agreements settled litigation in which GSK alleged that the generics companies were threatening to enter the market in breach of its patents. The CMA considered that the agreements were anticompetitive and amounted to an abuse of dominance by GSK.

GSK and the generics companies appealed the CMA’s decision on a number of grounds. Whilst dismissing the appeals in part, the CAT referred central questions to the CJEU relating to what constitutes potential competition, infringements by object and effect, abuse of dominance, and what it describes as a ‘novel’ approach to market definition.

The CAT also recognised that existing cases before the CJEU raised many of the same issues as the present appeal.

The judgment can be found here.

Ronit Kreisberger appeared on behalf of Merck KGaA.

Jon Turner QC, Thomas Sebastian, and Elizabeth Kelsey appeared on behalf of the CMA.

High Court finds Haringey LBC acted unlawfully in failing to ensure housing needs of family with severely disabled child are met.

The High Court today handed down judgment in R (KS & AM) v London Borough of Haringey. The claim was brought by a mother and her youngest child who is six years old, is severely disabled and has no sense of danger. Children’s services recognized the danger that the current accommodation presents, particularly the danger of the child falling from one of the two the balconies at the front and rear of the property. A fire risk assessment found that it was not appropriate to seal the balcony doors and so the risk of serious injury from a fall remained. Children’s services therefore requested that the authority’s housing department provided the family with suitable accommodation.

The judgment was concerned with the relationship between the obligations owed to the family by the local authority’s children’s services and its housing department. It was found by the court that the housing authority was not entitled to treat the request that it provides appropriate accommodation as a request for a review of its housing allocation decision and put the family on a waiting list with little or no prospect of securing suitable accommodation. The court also found that where the housing department did not act on children’s services request for appropriate accommodation for the family, the children’s services department was required to formulate a plan setting out how the unaddressed needs of the family were to be met.

This is an important judgment which clarifies the high degree of co-operation required by law between children services and housing departments where they are dealing with vulnerable children. It will hopefully help to avoid the longstanding problem of families with such vulnerable children being passed from one public body to another without either taking responsibility for their pressing needs.

A link to the judgment of the High Court is available here.

Monckton Chambers’ Ian Wise QC acted for the claimants, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors.

“Benefit cap” legislation survives the Court of Appeal – now for the Supreme Court

The Court of Appeal today handed down its long-awaited judgment in R (DA & Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The claim relates to a challenge to the lawfulness of the “benefit cap” legislation on the grounds that it unlawfully discriminates against, and hence breaches the human rights of, lone parents of children under two years old, and such children in their own right. A challenge to an earlier version of the benefit cap went all the way to the Supreme Court  but a narrow majority of the Supreme Court judges held that it did not discriminate against lone parents (and hence women) even though the majority of the Supreme Court judges did find that the cap breached the United Kingdom’s international obligations in relation to the welfare of children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Today’s judgment of the Court of Appeal concerns the judicial review challenge to the revised, and significantly harsher, benefit cap legislation. The High Court held that the new cap did indeed discriminate unlawfully against lone parents of children under two years old (and such children), concluding that the cap had caused “real misery to no good purpose” (see here).

The Court of Appeal, by a majority of two to one, has overturned the High Court judgment based in particular on a different interpretation of the judgment in SG. The Court of Appeal did however consider that the High Court was entitled to find that the revised cap was again in breach of the UK’s obligations to children under the UNCRC. In addition, recognising the real public importance of the issues raised, the Court of Appeal has taken the unusual step of granting permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against its own judgment. This means that the lawfulness of the benefit cap is going to be considered again at the very highest level of the judicial system.

A link to the judgment of the Court of Appeal is available here.

Monckton Chambers’ Ian Wise QC and Michael Armitage acted for the claimants/respondents, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine LLP.

General Court issues a key judgment on the reach of the Aarhus Regulation

The General Court has annulled the Commission’s decision that it did not need to comply with a request for review made under the Aarhus Regulation insofar as the decision in question related to the safety risks, as opposed to ‘environmental risks’ posed by a genetically modified organisms (“GMO”).

Pursuant to the Aarhus Regulation, Testbiotech submitted a request for review to the Commission of the legality of a market authorisation for a genetically modified soybean. The Commission rejected the greater part of the review on the basis that it was out with the scope of the Aarhus Regulation because it examined the health threats posed by the GMO, and not the threat it posed to the environment. The General Court found that as GMOs are cultivated in the environment they are, therefore, part of the general environment (whether they are cultivated in the EU or not). The Court found, therefore, that the Aarhus Regulation applies to any provision of EU legislation concerning the regulation of GMOs that has the objective of dealing with a risk to human or animal health, that originates in those GMOs or in environmental factors that may have effects on GMOs when they are cultivated or bred in the natural environment.

This judgment has broader significance for the exercise of environmental law rights by NGOs. It demonstrates that the General Court will adopt a broad and purposive approach to the scope of the Aarhus Regulation, enabling NGOs to challenge inappropriate market authorisations or other environmental decisions.

Kassie Smith QC and Julianne Kerr Morrison, instructed by Leigh Day, acted for Testbiotech.

For further detail see the General Court’s Press Release.

The judgement may be found here.