High Court Grants Declaratory Relief regarding imports from Morocco relating to Western Sahara

21 Mar 2019

The High Court has declared that HMRC acted unlawfully in granting preferential tariff treatment to products from Morocco which originated in Western Sahara. HMRC – acting pursuant to advice given by the European Commission – had treated such products as being entitled to preferential tariff treatment. But, following a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU, the High Court declared that this position was not tenable and that there was no such entitlement under the EU Morocco Association Agreement. Similarly, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was not entitled to grant fisheries quotas for fishing in the territorial waters of Western Sahara under the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

The declaratory relief granted by the High Court represents the successful culmination of 4 years of litigation, of wider significance for the interpretation and validity under EU Law of treaties with third states regulating trade relationships.

Conor McCarthy, instructed by Leigh Day, acted for Western Saharan Campaign UK (led by Kieron Beal QC)