Competition Law Essay 2015/2016

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2015/2016 Competition Law Essay Competition. The aim of the Competition is to promote and encourage written work on the subject of competition law amongst younger lawyers.

The Competition is open to anyone who is, or will be within one year of the Deadline (see below), a third level student, a trainee lawyer (solicitor or barrister), a paralegal, or a stagiare. The prize is €500 and the winning work may be published in the Irish Journal of European Law.

The adjudicating panel consists of:

  • The Hon. Mr. Justice Aindrias Ó Caoimh, former Judge at the Court of the Justice of the European Union (Chairman);
  • Mr. Noel Travers, SC; and
  • Ms Úna ButlerDirector of Legal Services of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 4 March 2016. Entrants should send an electronic copy (in PDF/ read-only format) of their cover letter and submission by e-mail to Maureen O’Neill, Chair of the Competition Law Forum, at

Further details of the Competition, including the submission procedure, are set out in the .essay Competition rules.

Irish Journal of European Law – Special Volume – Changing Sovereignty

Welcome to the Irish Journal of European Law (IJEL)’s Special Volume  – Changing Sovereignty in Europe – with Guest Editorial by Imelda Maher

Table of Contents – IJEL Vol 18 Issue 1 – Special Volume -Changing Sovereignty

European agenda on migration launched

CATHERINE DONNELLY Following the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean in April, the EU introduced a European agenda on migration on May 13th.

In the short term, the focus is on increasing the budget for Frontex – the EU’s agency for the management of co-operation at external borders of the union – to provide for ships and aircraft to save lives at sea and to provide for safe and legal resettlement of people to Europe.

In the longer term, the EU’s objectives include reducing the incentives for irregular migration, saving lives and securing external borders. However, as the measures proposed relate to justice and home affairs, Ireland has an “opt in” right and will be bound by such measures only if it so chooses.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced a proposal at the end of March for an inquiry into the e-commerce sector, out of concern for the fact that while about half of all EU consumers shop online, only 15 per cent of them buy from a seller based in another EU member state, suggesting significant barriers to e-commerce still exist.

The EU’s principle of institutional balance between the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council featured in Case C-409/13. Displeased with amendments made by the council and the parliament to one of its legislative proposals, the commission withdrew its proposal.

The Court of Justice ruled that, while the commission did enjoy a power of withdrawal of proposals, this power was subject to an obligation to state the grounds for the withdrawal, which grounds would have to be supported by cogent evidence or arguments.

There was an interesting ruling of the Court of Appeal in the UK at the end of March, in the case of Vidal-Hall v Google, which invoked the charter of fundamental rights to strike down UK legislation which limited the ability to sue for non-economic losses in the context of data protection law, and which may have repercussions for enforcement of other EU rights.

In Case C-446/12, the Court of Justice gave an indication in April of the limits to the reach of the charter, holding that where a member state stores and uses fingerprint data, originally collected in compliance with an EU regulation, but which the state then uses for purposes other than those stipulated in the regulation, the member state is not acting within the scope of EU law and therefore is not bound by the charter. This ruling will be welcomed by states who have concerns about the potentially broad scope of application of the charter.

Finally, preliminary rulings continue to be sought by the Irish courts from the Court of Justice, with the Supreme Court referring the question of whether the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland is an “emanation of the State”. Úna Butler and Catherine Donnelly are members of the Irish Society for European Law.

Winner of the Competition Law Essay Competition 2014/2015

Séan O’Dea has been selected, unanimously, as the winner of this year’s Competition Law Essay Competition, for his essay “Developing a Competition Culture”.  The Society would like to congratulate Séan and to thank all those who entered the competition.

The Society would also like to express its sincere thanks to the members of the adjudicating panel for their time and continued dedication to the competition.  The adjudicating panel consists of:

  • The Hon. Mr. Justice Aindrias Ó Caoimh, Court of the Justice of the European Union (Chairman);
  • Mr. Noel Travers, SC; and
  • Mr. Gerald FitzGerald, Member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Séan will be presented with a cheque for €500 at the upcoming Competition Law Forum event on 21 May, at which Prof. Richard Whish and Dr. Suzanne Kingston will provide an update on competition law developments in Europe and Ireland.  In addition, Séan’s essay will be eligible to be published in the Irish Journal of European Law.

Court decisions show variety of areas influenced by EU law

The Opinion of Advocate General Bot indicating a failure by Ireland to comply with the EU Working Time Directive in respect of doctors’ hours issued on March 19th has understandably garnered significant attention in Ireland. However, the European Courts and the Commission have in recent weeks issued a number of interesting decisions illustrating the variety of areas influenced by EU law.

Two recent decisions illustrate the influence of the EU institutions on financial markets in EU Member States. In Lafonta v Autorité des Marchés Financiers the Court of Justice was asked to consider how precise information in respect of publicly listed companies must be before it is required to be made available to the public pursuant to the EU Directive on Insider Dealing and Market Manipulation. In its decision of March 11th the Court of Justice held that in order for such information to be required to be made public it need not be possible to determine whether the effect of its publication would be to make the value of shares in the company go up or down. Rather, it is sufficient that its publication would be likely to result in a change in the price of the shares in either direction.

On March 9th, in Deutsche Börse v Commission, the General Court upheld the European Commission’s decision of February 1st, 2012 prohibiting, under EU merger control rules, a proposed merger between Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext which would have created the world’s largest financial exchange operator.

Leaving the financial markets, in February the European Commission rejected a complaint about an alleged refusal to supply Irish whiskey. The complainant, who marketed Irish whiskey procured from Cooley Distillery under the “Wild Geese” brands, found that, subsequent to the acquisition of Cooley by Jim Beam (which was in turn acquired by Suntory), it could no longer obtain supply of whiskey from Cooley. Irish Distillers Limited and the Old Bushmills Distillery Co Limited also refused to supply the complainant. The complaint alleged that the three companies were controlling the market for the supply of Irish whiskey and had potentially entered into an agreement or concerted practice not to supply the complainant with whiskey. The Commission took the view that, as each of the three companies seemed to have legitimate business reasons for refusing to supply the complainant, the complaint should be rejected.

In Joined Cases, Commission v France and Commission v Luxembourg, the Court of Justice found that both France and Luxembourg had breached EU VAT Directives by applying a reduced level of VAT to electronic books. Whereas such reduced rates are permissible in respect of conventional printed books, the Court concluded that the relevant exemption in the VAT Directives permitting such reductions is not applicable to electronic books.

Finally, in her Opinion in K v A, also on March 19th, Advocate General Kokott concluded that the EU Family Reunification Directive permits EU Member States to make the right of a non-EU national spouse to join his or her family in that State subject to the spouse passing an examination testing his or her knowledge of that country and of its language. However, the Advocate General indicated that such a system of testing must make allowances for the state of health, cognitive abilities and level of education of the individual and the availability of preparatory materials for the examination. The Advocate General further indicated that the fees for taking such an examination should not be set at such a level as to prevent the spouse from joining his or her family.

This article by Joanne Finn and Donogh Hardiman, members of the Irish Society for European Law, was published in the Irish Times on Monday, 20 April, 2015.

© 2015

Irish Journal of European Law: CALL FOR PAPERS

The Irish Society for European Law recently re-launched the Irish Journal of European Law as an e-journal. The Journal, which has been published since 1992, is a leading international journal on European law edited by Irish scholars and practitioners. The 2014 volume is now available on the Society’s website at

The Journal – which is blind peer-reviewed – is now issuing a call for original papers for its 2015 volume. Long articles (indicative length 8,000 – 12,000 words) and shorter articles (3,000-4,000 words), and analyses of any length of recent developments are invited.

While submissions on Irish-European legal issues are of special interest, the Journal welcomes submissions on all areas of European law. In addition to the more traditional form of academic article, comment and opinion pieces on European-Irish affairs with a legal dimension, are also welcomed.

Submissions are to be sent to by Friday 15 May 2015 in WORD format, size 12 font, single spaced. The referencing style guide is OSCOLA Ireland, which is available online at:

Irish Journal of European Law

Co-Editors: Anna-Louise Hinds & Diarmuid Rossa Phelan;

Members of the Editorial Board: Una Butler, Karole Cuddihy, Catherine Donnelly, David Fennelly, Anna Hickey.