Criminal proceedings against Arcaro: ECJ 26 Sep 1996

ECJ 1. Where, under the procedure provided for by Article 177 of the Treaty, questions are formulated imprecisely, the Court may extract from all the information provided by the national court and from the documents concerning the main proceedings the points of Community law needing to be interpreted, having regard to the subject-matter of the dispute.
2. Article 3 of Directive 76/464 on pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment of the Community is to be interpreted as making any discharge of cadmium, irrespective of the date on which the plant from which it comes commenced operation, subject to the issue of a prior authorization.
In the absence of full transposition by a Member State, within the time allowed, of the directive in question and therefore of Article 3 thereof, and of Directive 83/513 on limit values and quality objectives for cadmium discharges, a public authority of that State may not rely on Article 3 of Directive 76/464 against an individual, since that possibility exists only for individuals and only in relation to ‘each Member State to which it is addressed’.
3. Although there is no method of procedure in Community law allowing the national court to eliminate national provisions contrary to a provision of a directive which has not been transposed where that provision may not be relied upon before the national court, the Member States’ obligation under such a directive to achieve the result envisaged by the directive and their duty, under Article 5 of the Treaty, to take all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of that obligation, are binding on all the authorities of the Member States including, for matters within their jurisdiction, the courts. It follows that, in applying national law, the national court called upon to interpret a directive is required to do so, as far as possible, in the light of the wording and purpose of the directive in order to achieve the result pursued by the directive and thereby comply with the third paragraph of Article 189 of the Treaty.
However, that obligation of the national court to refer to the content of the directive when interpreting the relevant rules of its national law reaches a limit where such an interpretation leads to the imposition on an individual of an obligation laid down by a directive which has not been transposed or, more especially, where it has the effect of determining or aggravating, on the basis of the directive and in the absence of a law enacted for its implementation, the liability in criminal law of persons who act in contravention of that directive’ s provisions.

Kakouris R P
[1997] All ER (EC) 82, C-168/95, [1996] EUECJ C-168/95
Directive 76/464 3
Cited by:
CitedBritish Airways Plc v Williams and Others SC 17-Oct-2012
The claimants, airline pilots, and the company disputed the application of the 1998 Regulations to their employment. They sought pay for their annual leave made up of three elements: a proportionate part of the fixed annual sum paid for their . .

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Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.161597