Regina (Bidar) v Ealing London Borough Council and Another: ECJ 15 Mar 2005

Europa (Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union) Citizenship of the Union – Articles 12 EC and 18 EC – Assistance for students in the form of subsidised loans – Provision limiting the grant of such loans to students settled in national territory. The court considered the retrospective nature of a ruling: ‘the interpretation the Court of Justice gives to a rule of Community law is limited to clarifying and defining the meaning and scope of that rule as it ought to have been understood and applied from the time of its coming into force. It follows that the rule as thus interpreted may, and must, be applied by the courts even to legal relationships arising and established before the judgment ruling on the request for interpretation.’ However the court may limit the temporal effect of a ruling in defined circumstances: ‘The court has taken that step only in quite specific circumstances, where there was a risk of serious economic repercussions owing in particular to the large number of legal relationships entered into in good faith on the basis of rules considered to be validly in force and where it appeared that both individuals and national authorities had been led into adopting practices which did not comply with Community legislation by reason of objective, significant uncertainty regarding the implications of Community provisions, to which the conduct of other member states or the Commission may even have contributed …’
The applicant was a French national who had come to live with his grandmother in London to finish his secondary education. He was given a place at University, and applied for a student loan. He issued proceedings when his application for a student loan was refused. The matter was referred to the ECJ.
Held: The rules effectively prevented any resident student from another member state ever receiving the same benefits by way of a student loan to pursue tertiary education in England. The rules were discriminatory and unlawful. The requirement that an applicant should have lived in England for more than three years was potentially discriminatory but might be justifiable only if it was objectively based on non-discriminatory grounds and was proportionate. However the rules required also that any applicant should have settled status, and that status would be denied because it required that he be ordinarily resident without being subject to any restriction on the period of time for which he could remain. That restriction would stay in place.
Europa Citizenship of the Union – Articles 12 EC and 18 EC – Assistance for students in the form of subsidised loans – Provision limiting the grant of such loans to students settled in national territory.
It was ‘permissible for a member state to ensure that the grant of assistance to cover the maintenance costs of students from other member states does not become an unreasonable burden which could have consequences for the overall level of assistance which may be granted by that state . . In the case of assistance covering the maintenance costs of students, it is thus legitimate for a member state to grant such assistance only to students who have demonstrated a certain degree of integration into the society of that state.’
The court accepted that this justified the residence test. It also accepted that the settlement test: ‘could admittedly, like the requirement of three years’ residence referred to in the preceding paragraph, correspond to the legitimate aim of ensuring that an applicant for assistance has demonstrated a certain degree of integration into the society of that state.’
V. Skouris, P
C-209/03, [2005] EUECJ C-209/03, Times 29-Mar-2005, [2005] 2 WLR 1078, [2005] QB 812, [2005] All ER (EC) 687, [2005] CEC 607, [2005] ECR I-2119, [2005] 2 CMLR 3, [2005] ELR 404
Bailii
Education (Student Support) Regulations 2001
European
Cited by:
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 February 2021; Ref: scu.223540