Case T‑345/05, Mote v European Parliament

>> Court of First Instance reiterates that it will only review review legality of acts of the European Parliament intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties

In November 2003, criminal proceedings were brought against Ashley Neil Mote, a British citizen, on the ground that various State benefits he had received between 1996 and 2002 had been obtained on the basis of false declarations.

Following his election to the European Parliament in June 2004, Mr Mote applied for the criminal proceedings pending against him to be stayed, relying on the privileges and immunities that he enjoyed in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament.

The Attorney General of England and Wales asked the European Parliament to confirm that the prosecution brought against the applicant did not infringe the
Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities of 8 April 1965 annexed to the Treaty establishing a single Council and a single Commission, in particular Art. 8 thereof and, in the event that Mr Mote was held to enjoy any privilege or immunity under the Protocol, to waive that privilege or immunity.

By decision of July 5, 2005, the plenary assembly of the Parliament decided to waive Mr Mote’s immunity. He subsequently sought annulment of this decision, arguing inter alia that the Parliament should have determined that the privilege conferred by Article 8 of the Protocol had been infringed.

The Parliament submitted that the application should be declared inadmissible on the ground that the applicant was not directly concerned, for the purposes of Art. 230(4) EC, by the decision to waive immunity, in particular in that such a decision left a discretion to its addressee.

The Court first of all reiterated that the European Community was based on the rule of law inasmuch as neither its Member States nor its institutions could avoid a review of the question whether their acts were in conformity with the constitutional charter, the Treaty, which established a complete system of legal remedies and procedures designed to permit the Court of Justice to review the legality of acts of the institutions. Acts adopted by the Parliament had not, as a matter of principle, been excluded from actions for annulment. (
Case 294/83 Les Verts v Parliamen[1986] ;and Case C-314/91 Weber v Parliament [1993]).

The Court of First Instance held that under Art. 230(1) EC, the Court of Justice was to review the legality of acts of the Parliament intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties. Acts of the Parliament which related only to the internal organisation of its work could not be challenged in an action for annulment.

That class of measures included acts of the Parliament which either did not have legal effects or had legal effects only within the Parliament as regards the organisation of its work and were subject to review procedures laid down in its Rules of Procedure.

By contrast, acts of the Parliament which produced or were intended to produce legal effects in regard to third parties or, in other words, acts whose legal effects went beyond the internal organisation of the work of the institution were open to challenge before the Community judicature. (see, inter alia, the
order in Case 78/85 Group of the European Right v Parliament [1986]; and the order in Case C-68/90 Blot and Front national v Parliament [1990]).

Members, elected as representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community, must, with respect to an act emanating from the Parliament and producing legal effects as regards the conditions under which the electoral mandate was exercised, be regarded as third parties within the meaning of Art. 230(1) EC. (see
Joined Cases T-222/99, T-327/99 and T‑329/99 Martinez and Others v Parliament [2001]).

The Court stated that a decision by which the Parliament waived the immunity of one of its Members had legal effects going beyond the internal organisation of the Parliament since the decision made it possible for proceedings to be brought against that Member in respect of the matters identified. The contested decision therefore was an act which produced or was intended to produce legal effects with respect to third parties. It followed that it was possible for the Community judicature to review its legality under Art. 230(1) EC.

Mr Mote inter alia submitted that there was a lack of full and adequate reasons for the contested decision without stating the points on which he felt that reasons were lacking. He did not specify the matters of law and fact which, in his opinion, required further explanation on the part of the Parliament. This plea was therefore declared inadmissible.

The applicant made the complaint that the Committee on Legal Affairs failed to examine his requests or suggestions for seeking further information for the first time in his reply. The Court however found, that complaint also to be inadmissible, as it specifically concerned the investigation of the Committee on Legal Affairs in respect of the application for waiver of immunity and not the examination of the factors which should have been taken into account by the Parliament in adopting the contested decision, and therefore could not be regarded as constituting an amplification of the complaints made in the original application.

It followed from all of the above that the application had to be dismissed.

Text of Judgment

See also Judgment of the Court of Justice in
Joined Cases C-200/07, C-201/07 Marra [2008], delivered exactly a week later.