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ECJ rules on validity of the Fuel Quality Directive

08/07/10

On 8 July 2010, the ECJ gave its answer in Case C-343/09 Afton Chemical Limited v Secretary of State for Transport to two questions referred by the High Court under ex Article 234 EC on 2 July 2009. The ECJ ruled that there were no grounds for annulling the provisions of Directive 2009/30/EC limiting the use of the fuel additive methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) from 1 January 2011 or those providing that fuel containing metallic additives must be labelled as such.

Afton, the claimant manufacturer of MMT, alleged that the MMT Limits and the labelling requirement were enacted as a result of a manifest error of assessment on the part of the Parliament and Council, and that the procedural and substantive requirements of the precautionary principle were not met. Afton accordingly challenged the duty or intention of the Secretary of State to legislation implementing the Directive.  Afton contended that the Parliament and Council had unjustifiably failed to follow the reasoned conclusion of the Commission in its impact assessment that there was no evidence to justify a ban on any particular metallic additive, and alleged that there had been no scientific assessment or risk assessment by the legislature of the alleged risks posed by MMT to health and the environment such as was necessary before recourse could be had to the precautionary principle. The ECJ did not agree and upheld the contested provisions.

James Flynn QC, Jemima Stratford QC and Richard Blakeley acted for Afton.