Thursday, 31 January 2013

Belov (C-394/11) case remains unsolved - CJEU without jurisdiction

In September last year we commented on the AG Kokott's opinion in the Belov case (C-394/11). The case concerned the lack of access of consumers to electricity meters in two Roma districts of a Bulgarian city, Montana. Mr Belov, one of the Roma inhabitants of Montana, complained that he has been discriminated against on the basis of his ethnic origin, since the electricity provider made it more complicated for him than other consumers to check his electricity usage. AG Kokott recognized, indeed, that the case fell within the scope of the Directive 2000/43 on equal treatment and that on the grounds of its provisions there could be indirect discrimination found in this case.

The CJEU issued a judgment today in this case and disagreed with the AG's opinion. The CJEU does not consider itself as having jurisdiction to answer the questions referred to it in this case, due to the fact that the body referring the case could not be considered either as a court or a tribunal. Only national courts and tribunals are allowed to apply for the preliminary ruling from the CJEU, and the body in the mentioned case did not have compulsory jurisdiction nor "sufficient guarantees as to its independence", nor did the proceedings pending before it were "intended to lead to a decision of a judicial nature". (Par. 37)

This was an interesting, and very political question, that was referred to the CJEU and, unfortunately, we will not get an answer to it.

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