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High Court rejects application to declare the European Commission in contempt of court


Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart handed down his decision in Newby Foods Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Food Standards Agency (No. 7) [2014] EWHC 1340 (Admin), which considered an application to declare that the European Commission would be in contempt of court if it acted so as to interfere with interim relief granted by the court. The Commission had intervened, at the invitation of the High Court, in earlier proceedings concerning the grant of interim relief pending the judgment of the Court of Justice. The Claimant argued that by intervening in the proceedings, the Commission had surrendered to the jurisdiction of the High Court and would be in contempt if it takes any action to undermine the order for interim relief. Edwards-Stuart J held that only the Court of Justice has jurisdiction over the Commission's acts and furthermore rejected the submission that anything done by the Commission outside the territorial jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales could be capable of amounting to a contempt of court under English law.

The Claimant also sought to include in the relief a declaration that the Commission would be in breach of the principle of sincere cooperation under Article 4(3) TFEU if it acted so as to interfere with interim relief granted by the court. Edwards-Stuart J declined to make a declaration but made a number of observations on the principle of sincere cooperation in the context of this case and the interrelationship between the decisions of national courts and the conduct of the Commission.

The judgment is here.

Zahra Al-Rikabi was junior counsel for the Commission.