Supreme Court: EU law principle of absolute res judicata declared acte clair

04 Dec 2020 By Khatija Hafesji

Secretary of State for Health and Others (Respondents) v Servier Laboratories Ltd and others (Appellants) [2020] UKSC 44

Jon Turner QC and Philip Woolfe acted for the Secretery of State for Health and Anor.

Daniel Beard QCJulian Gregory and Alexandra Littlewood acted for the Scottish Ministers and ors.

Laura Elizabeth John acted for the Welsh Ministers and ors.

In the proceedings below, in the Court of Appeal Robert Palmer QC also acted for the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland health authorities, and at the first instance Josh Holmes QC acted for the Welsh health authorities.

In this important and unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court provides guidance on the EU law principle of absolute res judicata, namely the circumstances in which a European judicial decision is given dispositive effect which is binding not simply on the parties to the decision but on the world.

Background to the appeal

The appellant, Servier, is a pharmaceutical company which developed and manufactured a medicinal product called Perindopril that is used to treat cardiovascular diseases [2]. The appeal arises out of a long-running set of proceedings presently before the High Court, which concern whether Servier breached articles 101 and 102 TFEU / Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the Competition Act 1998 [4]. By these claims, the respondents (who are the claimants in the proceedings before the court) claim that Servier’s breaches of competition law delayed the entry of generic Perindopril onto the UK market which in turn caused the price of Perindopril to be higher than it would otherwise have been, and caused them financial loss [6].

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The comments made in this case note are wholly personal and do not reflect the views of any other members of Monckton Chambers, its tenants or clients.