Summaries of judgments: OT v Council of the European Union Defend Cyber

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the Basic Courtroom (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
 

Judgment of the Basic Courtroom (First Chamber, Prolonged Composition), 10 April 2024, Case T-301/22, Petr Aven v Council of the European Union

Widespread international and safety coverage – Restrictive measures taken in view of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine – Freezing of funds – Listing of individuals, entities and our bodies lined by the freezing of funds and financial sources – Inclusion and upkeep of the applicant’s identify on the lists – Idea of ‘assist for actions or insurance policies’ – Article 2(1)(a) of Choice 2014/145/CFSP – Article 3(1)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 – Ideas of ‘materials or monetary assist for Russian decision-makers’ and ‘profit’ from these decision-makers – Article 2(1)(d) of Choice 2014/145 – Article 3(1)(d) of Regulation No 269/2014 – Error of evaluation

Details

The Council of the European Union (‘the Council’) adopted, following the navy aggression carried out by the Russian Federation (‘Russia’) towards Ukraine on 24 February 2022, a number of measures by which it added the applicant’s identify to the lists of individuals, entities and our bodies supporting actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (“the lists at challenge”), adopted by the Council since 2014.

On 28 February 2022, the Council imposed on the applicant, Mr. Petr Aven, an oligarch of Russian and Latvian nationality, the freezing of his banking funds and property, in accordance with Article 2(1) and (2) of Choice 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014[1].

The Council took such actions on the bottom that he’s a significant shareholder of the Russian conglomerate ‘Alfa Group’, considered one of Russia’s most important banks. As such, the applicant is among the most influential individuals in Russia and has hyperlinks with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, supporting the Russian regime. Based on the Council, the Russian President rewarded the Alfa Group for its loyalty to the Russian authorities by selling the group’s funding plans overseas.

The applicant introduced an motion for annulment below article 263 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) towards the acts adopted by the Council, which the Basic Courtroom (“GC”) upheld. In his motion, the applicant raises two pleas a primary plea of legislation regarding an error of evaluation by the Council, in together with and sustaining the applicant’s identify on the lists at challenge, and a second plea alleging an infringement of the duty by the Council to assessment the applicant’s state of affairs periodically and the responsibility to state causes.

Choice

In its first plea, the applicant contests the validity of getting his identify included and maintained on the lists at challenge primarily based on two standards. Firstly, he questions the compliance with the criterion laid out in Article 2(1) (a) of Choice 2014/145, known as ‘criterion (a)’[2]. Secondly, he raises issues concerning adherence to the criterion outlined in Article 2(1) (d) of the identical resolution, known as ‘criterion (d)’[3]. He alleges that the Council didn’t gather proof that’s sufficiently particular, exact, and compelling to justify his inclusion and retention on the lists at challenge.

The Council sought to introduce new causes to justify the inclusion of the applicant’s identify on the lists at challenge. Based on the Council, the applicant as the bulk shareholder of ‘Alfa Financial institution’, one of many largest personal banks in Russia, acts as a supply of considerable income for the Russian authorities.

The Basic Courtroom rejected the arguments put ahead by the Council and dominated that in accordance with established case legislation, the legality of contested actions have to be assessed solely primarily based on the factual and authorized parts upon which they had been initially adopted. Consequently, the GC is precluded from substituting the grounds underlying these measures[4].

Secondly, regarding the deserves of together with and retaining the applicant’s identify primarily based on standards (a) and (d), the Basic Courtroom emphasizes the significance of guaranteeing an efficient judicial assessment as assured by Article 47 of the Constitution of Basic Rights of the European Union. This entails verifying that the choice to impose or keep restrictive measures, which straight impacts the person or entity involved, is grounded on a sufficiently strong factual foundation. Consequently, the GC should scrutinize the allegations outlined within the abstract of causes behind that call. Judicial assessment can’t be restricted to an evaluation of the cogency within the summary of the explanations relied on however should confirm whether or not these causes, or no less than considered one of them, thought-about individually, is sufficiently substantiated[5].

Moreover, the Basic Courtroom recollects that criterion (a) is linked to the endorsement of actions or insurance policies that undermine or pose a risk to the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine, or to the soundness or safety inside Ukraine. This criterion necessitates establishing a direct or oblique causal hyperlink between the actions or actions of the person or entity below scrutiny and the state of affairs in Ukraine that prompted the adoption of the restrictive measures in query[6].

Relating to criterion (d), it particularly targets pure and authorized individuals, entities, or our bodies that, though not inherently related to, or beneficiaries of, the annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of Ukraine, supply materials or monetary assist to, or derive advantages from, Russian decision-makers chargeable for such actions.

Lastly, the GC analyses the a number of rationales put forth by the Council and asserts that merely being a shareholder of the “Alfa Group” doesn’t result in the conclusion that the applicant endorsed or profited from actions or insurance policies detrimental to the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine, as outlined in criterion (a). Equally, it doesn’t point out that the applicant offered materials or monetary assist to, or gained advantages from, Russian decision-makers accountable for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of Ukraine, as stipulated in criterion (d).

The Basic Courtroom thus determines that not one of the causes offered by the Council has been substantiated to the mandatory authorized customary, rendering the inclusion of the applicant’s identify on the lists at challenge unjustified. Moreover, regarding the upkeep of the restrictive measures, the Council has failed to offer any extra proof past what was initially relied upon to incorporate the applicant’s identify on the lists at challenge.

The GC upheld the primary plea in legislation, concluding that there had been an error of evaluation on the a part of the Council concerning the inclusion and upkeep of the applicant’s identify on the lists at challenge with out it being essential to assess the opposite arguments and pleas put ahead by the applicant. Particularly, the alleged breach of the responsibility to periodically assessment the acts adopted and the responsibility to state causes. 

Judgment of the Basic Courtroom (Third Chamber), 17 April 2024, Case T-255/23, Escobar / EUIPO (Pablo Escobar)

EU commerce mark – Software for the EU phrase mark Pablo Escobar – Absolute floor for refusal – Commerce mark opposite to public coverage and to accepted rules of morality – Article 7(1)(f) of Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 – Presumption of innocence

Details

On 30 September 2021, Escobar Inc., established in Puerto Rico (United States), filed an software with the European Union Mental Property Workplace (EUIPO) for registration of the phrase signal Pablo Escobar as an EU commerce mark for a variety of products and companies.

The Colombian nationwide named Pablo Escobar, who was born on 1 December 1949 and died on 2 December 1993, is presumed to be a drug lord and a narco-terrorist who based and was the only chief of the Medellín cartel (Colombia).

EUIPO rejected the applying for registration on the bottom that the mark was opposite to public coverage and to accepted rules of morality. It relied on the notion of the Spanish public, as it’s the most aware of Pablo Escobar as a result of hyperlinks between Spain and Colombia.

Escobar Inc. introduced an motion towards that call earlier than the Basic Courtroom of the European Union. The Courtroom upholds the refusal to register the commerce mark Pablo Escobar.

Choice

The Courtroom resolve that the identify Pablo Escobar might not be registered as an EU commerce mark as the general public would affiliate it with drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.

Based on the Courtroom, EUIPO might rely, in its evaluation, on the notion of affordable Spaniards, with common sensitivity and tolerance thresholds and who share the indivisible and common values on which the European Union is based (human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity, and the rules of democracy and the rule of legislation and the best to life and bodily integrity).

EUIPO accurately discovered that these individuals would affiliate the identify of Pablo Escobar with drug trafficking and narco-terrorism and with the crimes and struggling ensuing therefrom, somewhat than along with his attainable good deeds in favour of the poor in Colombia.

For the Courtroom, the commerce mark would due to this fact be perceived as operating counter to the elemental values and ethical requirements prevailing inside Spanish society.

The Courtroom provides that Pablo Escobar’s basic proper to the presumption of innocence has not been infringed as a result of, despite the fact that he was by no means criminally convicted,, he’s publicly perceived in Spain as an emblem of organised crime chargeable for quite a few crimes.


[1] Council Choice 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014 regarding restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (OJ 2022 L 78, p. 16)

[2] Based on Article 2(1)(a) of Choice 2014/145: “1. All funds and financial sources belonging to, or owned, held or managed by: (a) pure individuals chargeable for, supporting or implementing actions or insurance policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or stability or safety in Ukraine, or which hinder the work of worldwide organisations in Ukraine;”

[3] Based on Article 2(1)(d) of Choice 2014/145 supplies: : “1. All funds and financial sources belonging to, or owned, held or managed by: (d) pure or authorized individuals, entities or our bodies supporting, materially or financially, or benefitting from Russian decision-makers chargeable for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine;”

[4] Judgement of 12 November 2013, North Drilling v. Council, T 552/12, not printed, EU:T:2013:590, p. 25.

[5] Judgement of 18 July 2013, Fee v. Kadi, C-584/10 P, C 593/10 P e C 595/10 P, EU:C:2013:518, p. 119.

[6] Judgement of 30 November 2016, Rotenberg v. Council, T- 720/14, EU:T:2016:689, p. 74.

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