Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Revolving doors (a contrarian view)

with one comment

Nico and I have come up with a way of duplicating posts out of one piece of news; one of us writes something and then the other disagrees 😉

Last Tuesday Nico wrote a post titled “Revolving doors” in which he expresses the concern that “the cumulative effect of appointing previous Commission officials as judges, plus the very many référendaires who have spent some time in the EU administration may give rise to a pro-Commission bias at the Court“.

[I was actually in Luxembourg for a Court hearing when Nico wrote it, but I’ll tell you about that some other time].

Without entering into the debate on whether there is or there isn’t too much of a pro-Commission bias at the Court (in my view, there is the same deference towards the public authority that we find in any European administrative system – in the US, on the contrary, that deference is less visible-), I don’t at all share Nico’s concern.

Assuming that there was such bias, I would argue that it has nothing to do with former Commission officials becoming members of the Court:

Only two current Judges at the GC have previously worked at the Commission:  Marc van der Woude  (who was also a private practitioner, which should offset any bias; ask anyone in the business their opinion on him and you won’t hear a single negative one), and Guido Berardis (also an excellent and objective Judge).

This is 2 out of 27 (3 if the Committee gives the green light to Kreuschitz, which it undoubtedly should) does not appear to be an unreasonable proportion. Furthermore, all three of them were part of the Legal Service, which means that an important aspect of their work -aside from pleading- consisted in identifying flaws in the Commission’s work.

If you ask me (and part of my job is to beat the Commission in Court), the problem lies not in Judge’s previous professional experience, but rather in Judges being appointed for political reasons other than their knowledge of the law (see here). And people who know about EU law are generally -there are a few exceptions- either academics (most of whom also have defined pro or anti Commission biases), practitioners (we may have the opposite bias, plus we’re too competition law oriented), and Commission officials.

In sum, I would argue that we need Judges that know their stuff inside out, no matter their nationality or whether they are national judges, academics, ex-Commission officials or former practitioners.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

12 February 2013 at 4:58 pm

One Response

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  1. Very interesting comment. I would just like to add that Mr. Guido Berardis’ wife is working at the Legal service of the Commission on matters related to personnel and Mr. Berardis if often in charge of this kind of files. even if he refrains from judging on cases in which his wife is an agent of the Commission, I am just wondering if it is fear to appoint frequently a judge on the same matter in which his wife defends the Commission’ interest.

    anastasia porto

    21 October 2016 at 7:42 am

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