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11/70 Internationale Handelsgesellschaft

[1991] ECR 2925

Case summary last updated at 14/02/2020 16:22 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case 11/70 Internationale Handelsgesellschaft

P, German farmer, argued that the forfeiture of a deposit unless exports were made within a time period under a directive, contradicted constitutional rights of German constitution, including rights of economic freedom. German court referred to ECJ the question of whether the regulation was lawful. ECJ held that (1) Community laws cannot be invalidated by rights contained in national constitutions/legislation, and (2) That the EU enshrines the constitutional rights common to MSs, including the one in question, but considered as a matter of fact that the right had not been infringed.
 
AG Dutheillet de Lamothe: the fundamental principles of the national legal systems contribute to permitting Community law to find in itself the resources necessary for ensuring, where needed, respect for the fundamental rights which form the common heritage of the member-States. This was the case regarding economic liberty.
 
ECJ: See below for the supremacy points. “Compliance with fundamental rights is an integral part of the general principles of law of which the Court of Justice ensures respect.” This includes the principle of economic liberty, guaranteed under the German constitution. 
 
NB The German Supreme Court later heard this case and found that actually the regulation HAD infringed the principle of economic liberty. This shows that actually the ECJ will struggle to remove the difference in rights protection between the EU and MSs. 

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