The Court of First Instance (CFI) rejected a state aid challenge by Bouygues, one of the mobile phone operators in France, on 4th July 2007 against a decision of the European Commission which had found that the grant of 3G licences in France to France Telecom and SFR involved no aid.
France had retrospectively reduced the price of the 3G licences acquired by France Telecom and SFR to match the lower price subsequently paid by Bouygues when Bouygues was subsequently awarded the third 3G licence. The CFI concluded that this price reduction afforded France Telecom and SFR no advantage and so involved no state aid. In reaching its conclusion the CFI relied on the Community legislation setting out the manner in which 3G licences were to be awarded by the Member States.
Christopher Vajda QC who was instructed by the Paris office of Denton Wilde Sapte, acted on behalf of SFR, the number two mobile operator in France.