5 National Iranian Oil Company EU Court judgments

The General Court of the EU has just given a number of judgments on the 2012 listing of several entities on the EU’s Iran sanctions lists, on the grounds of alleged connections with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

NIOC itself lost its annulment action in July 2014 because the Court concluded that the Council was entitled to find that NIOC was owned and managed by the Iranian state and provided financial resources to the Iranian government and thereby fulfilled the listing criteria (see previous blog). That appeal is pending to the Court of Justice in Case C-440/14. Advocate General Cruz Villalón has just given his non-binding opinion (link here) stating that in his view the General Court was correct, and that the legal basis and proportionality arguments in particular should fail.

In the new cases concerning alleged NIOC subsidiaries:

  • Iran Liquefied Natural Gas Co won because it denied being a subsidiary of NIOC and the EU had no evidence to support its view to the contrary – see Case T-5/13 (link here).
  • Petro Suisse Intertrade Co SA (T-156/13 and T-373/14, judgment here) and Case T-428/13 Iranian Oil Company UK Ltd (judgment here) lost their cases because, although the reasons relied on a number of allegations, the Council only relied on those entities being owned and controlled by NIOC, which was undisputed.
  • Oil Pension Fund Investment Company won (Case T-121/13 – judgment here) because the Council had not submitted evidence to support its allegations that that company provided financial support to the Iranian Government.
  • National Iranian Oil Company Ptd Ltd and 16 other applicants in Case T-577/12 (link here) lost, because they had not denied that they were wholly owned by NIOC. The Court also rejected interesting arguments about (a) whether Article 291 TFEU was an adequate legal basis; and (b) whether provisions in the Iran Regulations were unlawful because they were too uncertain and vague.

In all these cases, as previously, the Court rejected reasons and proportionality challenges, rejected the Council’s arguments that state emanations have no EU rights, and maintained the annulled measures in force for 2 months / until the Council’s right of appeal has expired.

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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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