Freshfields prompts Euro court change

A case brought by Freshfields challenging a European Commission ruling is prompting procedural changes to how the European courts handle commercial cases.

The firm's client, RJB Mining, challenged the way the Commission awards mining subsidies.

Since the case was heard in the Court of the First Instance of the European Communities in Luxembourg, a white paper has been drawn up to look at ways of speeding up cases which have fundamental importance to the European Community.

Freshfields litigation partner Jon Lawrence explains: “The court agreed to accelerate [parts of the case] through the court system because it was so important.

“[It] has published a white paper suggesting some changes to its procedural rules.

“It will allow the court to do what it did in our case and identify points of particular importance for the Community and accelerate them.”

The magic circle firm was invited to contribute to the discussion document.

Lawrence says: “The white paper was open to anyone who wanted to comment. We as a firm have put in our observations.”

He adds that the discussion document takes the English courts as a point of reference.

Lawrence says: “They are trying to modernise the procedures along the lines of the court system in the UK.”

But he adds it may take “months or even years” before the white paper is implemented.

He says: “Some of the proposed changes will require amendments to the European Treaty or the rules of court or both.