First Administrative Challenge against the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Armed Conflict in Yemen, Internal Repression
The request that was submitted on behalf of three Dutch NGOs called for the suspension of a specific licence issued for the export of military material to the Egyptian Army. The contested licence concerned the export of military material, including radar, C3 systems and related integration technology by an unnamed manufacturer to the Egyptian Navy (via France), with a value of up to €34,050,000.
The claimants first filed an out-of-court ‘notice of objection against the permit’ against the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was unsuccessful. Following the Minister’s refusal to withdraw the licence, the claimants took the challenge to court and filed a claim before the District Court of Noord-Holland.
At first instance, the District Court dismissed the claim as inadmissible due to a lack of standing. On appeal, the Court did not consider the matter of standing as the contested licence had already expired by the time the appeal was heard meaning the claim was immediately dismissed as moot.
Case Development: Judgement by the Court of Appeal on the Appeal against the Decision of the District Court of Noord Holland
The Court of Appeal declares the appeal as inadmissible, concluding that the claimants lack interest to bring the proceedings as the contested licence had expired on 30.09.2016.n Although this...
Case Development: Appeal Submission to the Court of Appeal against the Decision of the District Court of Noord Holland
The appeal submits that the claimants are interested parties, and challenges the conclusion of the District Court that the customs law of the EU does not qualify them as interested parties. In...
Case Development: Judgement by the District Court of Noord Holland on the Claim filed 06.07.2016
The District Court dismisses the claimants’ argument that they have standing to bring this case, and finds that the action against the Minister of Foreign Affairs is unfounded. In particular,...
Violation of the EU Common Position
The substantive arguments put forth by the claimants to object to the licensing decision focused on the Egyptian Navy’s direct involvement in alleged IHL and IHRL violations in Yemen, including its involvement in the naval blockade and attacks against refugee boats.
In light of this, the claimants argued that the Minister’s initial conclusion that ‘there are no indications that the goods to be exported are related to the observed human rights violations or internal repression’ was in contravention of the terms of the EU Common Position.
The claimants submitted that they are entitled to bring this case before the District Court of Noord Holland as interested parties under domestic law. General Administrative Law Act, Article 1.2(3)
It was submitted that this criterion allows for legal entities whose interests are of a general and collective nature to challenge a government decision.
Decision of the District Court
The District Court did not accept the claimant’s submission that they could bring a case on the grounds of their ‘general and collective interest’ in the licence and dismissed the claim as inadmissible due to a lack of standing.
Unlike under domestic law, in the Union Customs Code Regulation only parties who can show they are ‘directly and individually’ affected by an administrative decision can bring a case before the court, and it was concluded that the claimants did not meet this criterion.
Decision on Appeal
On appeal before the Court of Appeal, the claimants maintained their argument that they did meet the requisite criteria to have legal standing under both domestic (General Administrative Law Act) and EU law (Union Customs Code Regulation).
As the contested licence had already expired by the time the appeal was heard in court, the claim was immediately dismissed as moot and the court did not rule on the issue of standing.
This meant that the claimants had to initiate a new challenge in order to discuss this matter in court.
24 Jan 2017
Judgement issued. Claim dismissed as moot.Read the judgement here
03 Oct 2016
Appeal submitted before the Court of Appeal. Claimants maintain the argument that they meet the legal standing criteria to challenge the licensing decision.Read the claimants' pleadings here
25 Aug 2016
Judgement issued. Claim dismissed as inadmissible.Read the judgement here
06 Jul 2016
Case enters the courts. The Minister's decision is appealed before the District Court of Noord-Holland. Claimants argue a general and collective interest that was affected by the adoption of the licence.Read the claimants' submission here
01 Jun 2016
Notice of Objection is unsuccessful. Minister of Foreign Affairs declares that the administrative complaint is inadmissible as the claimants are not sufficiently directly affected by the licensing decisions to bring a case against them.
12 Oct 2015
‘Notice of objection against the permit’ is filed against the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The claimants formally object to a licence granted to a third party for the transfer of military equipment to France with an end-user of the Egyptian Navy.
01 Sep 2015
Ministers of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and the Minister of Foreign Affairs informs the House of Representatives that it has issued a permit to a Dutch company for the supply of military equipment, worth €34,050,000 to Egypt (via France).Read the minister's letter here
Appeal Pleadings by PILPRead the document in full
Appeal Submission to the Court of Appeal against the Decision of the District Court of Noord HollandRead the document in full