Lourenco Dias v Director da Alfandega do Porto: ECJ 16 Jul 1992

Europa 1. In the framework of the procedure for cooperation between the Court of Justice and the courts of the Member States provided for by Article 177 of the Treaty, the national court, which alone has direct knowledge of the facts of the case, is in the best position to assess, having regard to the particular features of the case, whether a preliminary ruling is necessary to enable it to give judgment. Consequently, where the questions put by the national court concern the interpretation of a provision of Community law, the Court is, in principle, bound to give a ruling.
Nevertheless, it is a matter for the Court of Justice, in order to determine whether it has jurisdiction, to examine the conditions in which the case has been referred to it. The spirit of cooperation which must prevail in the preliminary-ruling procedure requires the national court to have regard to the function entrusted to the Court of Justice, which is to assist in the administration of justice in the Member States and not to deliver advisory opinions on general or hypothetical questions.
2. In order to enable the Court of Justice to provide a useful interpretation of Community law under Article 177 of the Treaty, it is appropriate that, before making the reference to the Court, the national court should establish the facts of the case and settle the questions of purely national law. By the same token, it is essential for the national court to explain the reasons why it considers that a reply to its questions is necessary to enable it to give judgment.
3. The fact that certain elements or certain rules for the application of a system of internal taxation are discriminatory and consequently prohibited by Article 95 of the Treaty does not necessarily mean that the whole of the tax system of which those elements or rules form a part has to be considered to be incompatible with that article.
In a situation in which, in most Member States, the tax systems are characterized by the extreme diversity with which some products are taxed or qualify for abatements or deductions, the fact that some categories of products may suffer discriminatory treatment cannot have any bearing on the compatibility with Community law of internal taxes charged on other categories of products where those taxes are themselves applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
4. A motor-vehicle tax applied without distinction to vehicles assembled and manufactured in the Member State where it is levied and to both new and used imported vehicles cannot be considered to be a charge having an effect equivalent to a customs duty on imports prohibited by Article 12 of the Treaty where it forms part of a general system of internal dues applied systematically to categories of products in accordance with objective criteria irrespective of the origin of the products. It constitutes internal taxation within the meaning of Article 95.


C-343/90, [1992] EUECJ C-343/90



Cited by:

CitedFoulser and Another v HM Inspector of Taxes ChD 20-Dec-2005
The taxpayer company entered into an arrangement in which shares were purchased by a company based in Ireland and resold. A claim was made for holdover relief.
Held: The scheme failed. The restriction imposed did not infringe the right of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 01 June 2022; Ref: scu.160595