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ECJ holds that family members cannot automatically be listed on EU targeted sanctions measures: Pye Phyo Tay Za v Council


Pye Phyo Tay Za was made subject to the European Union's targeted sanctions regime against Burma / Myanmar, on the grounds that, as the son of a successful businessman in Burma / Myanmar, it could be presumed that he had benefitted from the policies of the Burmese regime. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice, overturning the General Court, has annulled his listing, on the grounds that there is an insufficient link between Pye Phyo Tay Za and the military regime of Burma/Myanmar to satisfy Articles 60 and 301 EC (the legal basis of the sanctions).

The ECJ's judgment will be important in determining the European courts' approach to 'regime' sanctions of this kind, about which applications for annulment are piling up in Luxembourg. The Grand Chamber has said in its judgment that European 'smart sanctions' can only be targeted at the 'leaders' of third countries and people who have an obvious connection with them. The European Council cannot automatically list the family members of businessmen on the basis that they are presumed to have benefitted from a regime, but can only include people on the basis of precise, concrete evidence that they benefit from the economic policies of the leaders of a country.

The judgment is here.

Pye Phyo Tay Za was represented by David Anderson QC and Maya Lester in the General Court, and by David Anderson QC, Sir Sydney Kentridge QC and Maya Lester in the Court of Justice.