Communication: new case No. 0124 of 2022

Court of Justice of the European Union
Communication: new case




Official Journal of the European Union

C 244/12

Appeal brought on 21 February 2022 by Zoï Apostolopoulou and Anastasia Apostolopoulou-Chrysanthaki against the judgment delivered on 21 December 2021 in Joined Cases T-721/18 and T-81/19, Apostolopoulou and Apostolopoulou-Chrysanthaki v European Commission

(Case C-124/22 P)

(2022/C 244/16)

Language of the case: Greek


Appellants: Zoï Apostolopoulou and Anastasia Apostolopoulou-Chrysanthaki (represented by: D. Gkouskos, dikigoros)

Other party to the proceedings: European Commission

Form of order sought

The appellants submit that the Court of Justice should:

set aside the judgment of the General Court of 21 December 2021 in Joined Cases T-721/18 and T-81/19; (1)

uphold the actions in Joined Cases T-721/18 and T-81/19 in their entirety;

order the other party to the proceedings to pay the costs incurred by the appellants at first and second instance.

Grounds of appeal and main arguments

In support of their appeal, the appellants rely on five grounds of appeal.

1.    First ground of appeal: contradictory and incorrect reasoning regarding the breach of the principle of sound administration on the part of the Commission

In the judgment under appeal, the General Court dismissed as inadmissible the applicants’ plea alleging breach of the principle of sound administration, holding that the applications in the joined cases fail to set out the facts and law on which that plea is based, that is to say, the General Court based its finding on an incorrect and contradictory reasoning, in that (1) the General Court itself ruled that the subject matter of the applications was clear, precise and complete, and rejected the objection of inadmissibility raised by the Commission on the basis of the imprecise nature of those applications (paragraph 73 of the judgment under appeal); (2) the General Court itself held (paragraph 124 of the judgment under appeal) that the Commission had indeed set out in its written pleadings, with regard to the applicants, the false allegations which the applicants regard as constituting conduct contrary to the principle of sound administration. In other words, not only were the necessary facts and law set out (as is apparent, moreover, from a mere reading of the pleadings in the two applications), but the General Court itself had already ruled on them; (3) the General Court’s finding that the Commission made false assertions concerning the applicants in judicial proceedings seeking to recover sums of money which were NOT awarded against the applicants in itself demonstrates a clear breach of the principle of sound administration on the part of the Commission. If that were not the case, it would have to be accepted that the false claims made by an EU institution before the national court to the detriment EU citizens is a practice consistent with the rules of sound administration.

2.    Second plea in law: Defective statement of reasons based on arguments which were not raised and failure to adjudicate on the claims for compensation in respect of non-material damage resulting from specific false and offensive allegations made by the Commission

Rather than examining the specific false and offensive allegations made with regard to the applicants and the passages set out in the Commission’s pleadings, which formed the background and the subject matter of the two actions, in order to determine whether those allegations constitute an infringement of the applicants’ personality and whether they form the basis of a claim for compensation for non-material damage, as the applicants claim in their two applications, the General Court held that the Commission had not accused the applicants of fraud and, on the basis of that finding, dismissed the applications in the joined cases. However, that finding is unrelated to the subject matter of those actions, since the applicants do not, by their actions, seek financial compensation because the Commission accused them of alleged acts of fraud. By that finding, the General Court has adjudicated on a plea that was not raised by the applicants, with the result that that assessment does not constitute a lawful statement of reasons. Thus, the General Court failed, first, to adjudicate on the joined actions and, second, to base its judgment on a lawful statement of reasons.

3.    Third plea in law: Distortion of the applicants’ arguments and contradictory assessments of the breach of the principle of due process and of the right to a fair hearing

Quite contradictorily, the General Court, while correctly stating that the applicants claim that the conduct complained of against the Commission in Case T-81/19 is contrary to both the duty of truthfulness and fairness of the parties to the proceedings, which is a principle common to the Member States, and the fundamental general principle of the sound administration of justice (right to a fair trial), then held that the applicants had not relied on any infringement of a rule of EU law. Yet it is clear from a simple reading of the claims made in their applications that they do so. In so doing, the General Court dismissed that part of the action in Case T-81/19 and based its judgment on a contradictory and defective statement of reasons.

4.    Fourth plea in law: Distortion of the subject matter of the actions and misinterpretation and misapplication of Articles 299, 268 and 340 TFEU

The General Court wrongly considered that (1) the subject matter of the dispute was the conduct of the Commission’s representatives (as legal representatives), whereas the Commission itself is a party to the dispute and liable to pay compensation on the basis of its non-contractual liability; (2) the breach of the Commission’s duty of truthfulness and the infringement of the applicants’ right to a fair trial fall within the scope of the review of whether enforcement is being carried out in an irregular manner, which is a matter for the national courts, whereas the infringements committed by the Commission referred to in the actions constitute infringements of the fundamental rights of EU citizens by an EU institution which give rise to a right to compensation on the basis of non-contractual liability, the General Court alone having jurisdiction under Articles 268 and 340 TFEU; and (3) the applicants rely on an infringement of national procedural rules, when they rely on the infringement of legal principles common to all Member States, of a general principle of EU law and of individual fundamental rights protected by EU law, as is apparent from a simple readings of the application and as the General Court itself accepted in other parts of its judgment.

5.    Fifth plea in law: Misinterpretation and misapplication of Articles 299, 317 and 325 TFEU

While fully accepting the allegation criticising the Commission for ‘false reports’ to the detriment of the applicants, the General Court arbitrarily extends the Commission’s right to accelerate the enforcement of its claim, disregarding in a paradoxical manner unprecedented in legal thinking, on account of the fact that the Commission cannot falsely exercise that inalienable right and in breach of the applicants’ fundamental individual rights, which constitute the minimum democratic threshold for any unlawful conduct on the part of EU institutions.

(1)  ECLI: ECLI:EU:T:2021:933


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