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C-326/96 Levez

[1998] ECR I-7835

Case summary last updated at 13/02/2020 18:39 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case C-326/96 Levez

An employee sought damages for pay owed to her in arrears in breach of the equal pay provision of the treaty. A domestic rule stated that there was a time limit in which to claim arrears and this had passed. The ECJ did not take issue with the time-limit per se, but said that where an employer used deceit deliberately to get the time limit to pass (he misinformed P about how much equivalent male employees had been earning) then it should not apply. 
 
ECJ (on effectiveness): In this situation the time limit would render the remedy ‘ineffective’ and therefore ought to be disapplied here. If in practice the rights conferred by the treaty article could be achieved in another way (e.g. an alternative remedy like tort for deceit) then the principle of effectiveness wouldn’t be infringed, but this is for the national court to determine in each case. However the existence of another cause of action to achieve the same rights is not sufficient where the other remedy is likely to entail procedural rules or other conditions which are less favourable than those applicable to similar domestic actions. Again this is for the national court to determine. 
 
ECJ (on equivalence): “The principle of equivalence requires that the rule at issue be applied without distinction, whether the infringement alleged is of Community law or national law, where the purpose and cause of action are similar”. To determine whether equivalence is achieved, costs and delays/time of alternative action needs to be considered. 

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