New EU General Court Cases Annulling Iran SanctionsPosted: September 6, 2013
I just saw this article, which reports on several new cases decided by the EU General Court (incorrectly identified as the European Court of Justice in the article) in which it has annulled EU measures imposing financial sanctions on Iranian banks and other businesses for their alleged involvement in supporting Iran’s nuclear program.
This is a continuation of a trend in EU General Court jurisprudence, about which I recently posted here.
You can read one of these newest judgments, in the case of Post Bank Iran, here.
Again, the basic rationale of the court in these case is that the EU has violated the businesses’ basic rights to due process of law by imposing financial sanctions on the basis of insufficient evidence. Here’s how the court explained it in the Post Bank Iran case:
According to a consistent body of case-law, the purpose of the obligation to state the reasons on which an act adversely affecting an individual is based, which is a corollary of the principle of respect for the rights of the defence, is, first, to provide the person concerned with sufficient information to make it possible to ascertain whether the act is well founded or whether it is vitiated by a defect which may permit its legality to be contested before the Courts of the European Union and, secondly, to enable those Courts to review the legality of that act (see Case C‑417/11 P Council v Bamba  ECR I‑0000, paragraph 49 and the case-law cited).
The statement of reasons required by Article 296 TFEU must disclose in a clear and unequivocal fashion the reasoning followed by the institution which adopted the measure in such a way as to enable the person concerned to ascertain the reasons for the measures and to enable the court having jurisdiction to exercise its power of review (see Council v Bamba, paragraph 69 above, paragraph 50 and the case-law cited).
Where the freezing of funds has considerable consequences for the persons, entities and bodies concerned, for it may restrict the exercise of their fundamental rights (Case C‑548/09 P Bank Melli Iran v Council  ECR I‑0000, paragraph 49), and, moreover, those persons, entities and bodies are not afforded the opportunity to be heard before the adoption of an initial fund- freezing measure, compliance with the obligation to state reasons is all the more important because it constitutes the sole safeguard enabling those persons, entities and bodies, at least after the adoption of the initial measure, to make effective use of the legal remedies available to them in order to challenge its lawfulness (see Council v Bamba, paragraph 69 above, paragraph 51 and the case-law cited).
The principle of effective judicial protection therefore means that the European Union authority which adopts the initial fund-freezing measure is bound to communicate the grounds for that measure to the person, entity or body in question, so far as possible, either when that measure is adopted or, at the very least, as swiftly as possible after it has been adopted, in order to enable that person, entity or body properly to exercise its right to bring an action.