19
Fri, Jul
60 New Articles

Court of Justice Decision on Liability of Member States for Damages Caused by Air Pollution

Court of Justice Decision on Liability of Member States for Damages Caused by Air Pollution

Briefings
Tools
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

In a recent case (C-61/21), contrary to settled case-law, the Court of Justice of the European Union did not oblige a Member State to pay compensation. Article 13 of the 2008/50/EC Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe obliges Member States to ensure that ambient air levels of NO2 and PM10 do not exceed EU-wide limit values. A resident in the Paris region considered that the French State had failed to ensure this and by this he has suffered damage to his health since 2003, caused by the deterioration of the ambient air quality in the Paris agglomeration. For these damages, he has claimed a total of EUR 21 million from the French State as compensation.

The claimant’s action was dismissed and the competent court (Cour administrative d'appel de Versailles) asked the Court of Justice whether and under what conditions individuals can claim compensation from the state for damage to their health caused by exceeding the concentration limits for NO2 and PM10 laid down in EU legislation.

According to Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed. According to settled case law, where a Member State fails to fulfil its obligation under the referred Article to take all the measures necessary to achieve the objective laid down by a directive, the full application of that provision of EU law gives rise to a right to compensation.

On 12 December 2022 the Court of Justice finally ruled against Advocate General Juliane Kokott's opinion. In its opinion, the Advocate General stated that Member States may be liable for health damage caused by excessive air pollution. The Advocate General's opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice, but practice shows that the panel often agrees with the Advocate General when taking decisions.

However, in its judgment, the Court of Justice pointed out that it is true that the air quality directives impose clear and precise obligations on the results to be achieved by Member States. However, they do not expressly confer rights on individuals, which would make it possible to hold the Member State liable for the damage caused to individuals. Nevertheless, the Court of Justice recalled that individuals must be able to obtain – before the competent courts – the adoption by the national authorities of the measures required under EU directives, such as the air quality plan.

By Levente Csengery, Founding PartnerKCG Partners Law Firm

KCG Partners at a Glance

KCG Partners is a Hungarian business law firm providing a comprehensive range of legal services to international and local clients seeking local knowledge and global perspective. The firm comprises business-minded lawyers with sector-specific expertise, creating value for clients by applying a problem-solving approach and delivering innovative solutions.

The firm has a wealth of knowledge in corporate law, M&A, projects and construction, energy, real estate, tax, employment, litigation, privacy and forensics, securitization, estate planning and capital markets.

To address clients’ regional and international concerns, the firm maintains active working relationships with other outstanding independent law firms in Central and Eastern Europe, whilst senior counsel Mr. Blaise Pásztory brings over 40 years’ of US capital market and fund management experience.

KCG Partners Law Firm is the result of the teamwork of passionate and talented lawyers guided by the same principles and sharing the same values: 

  • Our most valuable asset is our people. They are the engine of our business and the key to our success.
  • We push boundaries by looking for innovative solutions that can empower our clients to achieve greater results.
  • We place our experience, commitment and professionalism to your service.
  • We are driven by our vision to shape and lead the Hungarian legal market and become a first choice law firm in our practice areas.

Firm's website: http://www.kcgpartners.com