European court annuls sanctions listing of Syrian lawyer: Sabbagh v Council

The General Court of the European Union (the EU’s first instance court) has annulled the listing of Bassam Sabbagh, a Syrian lawyer included on the EU’s sanctions against Syria since November 2011, in Case T-652/11 Sabbagh v Council (26 February 2015). He was included on the grounds that he is head of a law firm in Damascus and a lawyer at the Paris Bar, advises Rami and Khaldoun Makhlouf, and is associated with President Bashar al-Assad in funding a real estate project, providing financial support to the regime.

The General Court found that the Council had failed to discharge its burden of proof as regards the truth of those reasons, which Mr Sabbagh denied, and that simply running a law firm was insufficient to justify his inclusion; there was no evidence before the court to support the Council’s case. The Court rejected Mr Sabbagh’s claim for damages, on the grounds that there was no evidence to substantiate his claim for loss and damage.

SyriaSyria European UnionEuropean Union

About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC is a senior barrister (Queen’s Counsel) at Brick Court Chambers with a wide-ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. The legal directories say she is the...

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