EU Law: European Court Limits Private Parties’ Standing to Challenge EU Regulatory Acts

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - 11 May 2015

In its judgment on 28 April 2015 in T & L Sugars Ltd, Sidul Açúcares, Unipessoal Lda v European Commission (Case C-456/13 P), the Court of Justice of the European Union gave authoritative interpretation of the concept of “implementing measures” for the determination of whether private parties have standing to challenge the legality of EU “regulatory acts” under Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Court held that EU regulatory acts that require any type of implementing measure (no matter how mechanistic) under national law cannot be challenged under the third limb of Article 263(4) by direct action in the EU General Court by private parties who are not the addressee of the relevant regulatory act. Consequently, private parties’ standing to seek the annulment of such acts by the EU General Court will depend on the claimant meeting the exacting standard of being “directly and individually concerned” by the regulatory act under challenge.

Whilst the judgment provides welcome clarification of the concept of “implementing measures”, it undoubtedly reduces the scope for private parties to seek judicial review under Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union of EU regulatory acts not specifically addressed to them.