Language of document : ECLI:EU:F:2014:239

ORDER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CIVIL SERVICE TRIBUNAL

(Second Chamber)

21 October 2014

Case F‑107/11 DEP

Ioannis Ntouvas

v

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

(Civil service — Procedure — Taxation of costs — Lawyer’s fees — Representation of an institution by a lawyer — Transport and accommodation expenses and daily allowances for the lawyer — Recoverable costs)

Application:      brought by Mr Ntouvas, under Article 92(1) of the version of the Rules of Procedure then in force (‘the old Rules of Procedure’), for taxation of the costs of the case which gave rise to the judgment in Ntouvas v ECDC (F‑107/11, EU:F:2012:182, the subject of an appeal pending before the General Court of the European Union in Case T‑94/13 P).

Held:      The total amount of costs to be reimbursed by Mr Ntouvas to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in respect of recoverable costs in Case F‑107/11 Ntouvas v ECDC, is EUR 9 472.19.

Summary

1.      Judicial proceedings — Costs — Recoverable costs — Production of supporting documents capable of proving that the expenses were genuinely incurred by the party seeking their reimbursement — Criteria

(Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, Art. 91(b))

2.      Judicial proceedings — Costs — Taxation — Recoverable costs — Expenses necessarily incurred by the parties — Fees paid by an institution to its lawyer — Included — Elements to be taken into consideration for the purposes of taxation

(Statute of the Court of Justice, Art. 19, first para., and Annex I, Art. 7(1); Rules of Procedure of the Civil Service Tribunal, Art. 91(b))

3.      Privileges and immunities of the European Union — Union’s exemption from all direct taxes and customs duties on articles intended for official use — Advantages conceded to the Union in terms of indirect taxation — Assessment by the Member States — Conditions

(Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Arts 3 and 4)

1.      The mere fact that only copies of the originals of invoices were communicated to a party does not prove, given the lack of arguments capable of calling into question the authenticity of those invoices and their consistency with the originals, that the expenses were not in fact genuinely incurred for the purposes of recoverable costs.

(see para. 24)

2.      As is apparent from the first paragraph of Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice, applicable before the Civil Service Tribunal pursuant to Article 7(1) of Annex I to that Statute, the institutions are free to have recourse to the assistance of a lawyer. The latter’s remuneration is therefore covered by the concept of expenses necessarily incurred for the purposes of the proceedings, without the institution being required to show that such assistance is objectively warranted.

Concerning the determination of the amount of recoverable lawyer’s fees, the Union judicature is not empowered to tax the fees payable by the parties to their own lawyers but it may determine the amount of those fees which may be recovered from the party ordered to pay the costs. When ruling on an application for taxation of costs, it is not obliged to take account of any national scales of lawyers’ fees or any agreement in that regard between the party concerned and his agents or advisers.

Similarly, the fixed nature of the remuneration has no effect on the Civil Service Tribunal’s assessment of the amount recoverable by way of costs, since it bases its decisions on well-established criteria laid down by case-law and precise information which the parties must provide to it. Whilst the absence of such information does not preclude the Tribunal fixing the amount of the recoverable costs on the basis of an equitable assessment, it nonetheless places it in a situation where its assessment of the applicant’s claims must necessarily be strict.

Moreover, in the absence of Union provisions laying down fee scales, the court must make an unfettered assessment of the facts of the case, taking into account the purpose and nature of the proceedings, their significance from the point of view of Union law, the difficulties presented by the case, the amount of work generated by the case for the agents or advisers involved and the financial interest which the parties had in the proceedings.

Finally, the amount of the institution’s lawyer’s fees that are recoverable cannot be evaluated without taking into consideration the work carried out, even before the matter was brought before the Civil Service Tribunal, by the departments of the institution. Since the admissibility of an action is subject to the introduction of a complaint and its rejection by the appointing authority, the legal services of the institution are in principle involved in dealing with disputes even before such disputes are brought before the Tribunal.

As regards the scale of the work entailed in the proceedings before the Civil Service Tribunal, it is for the Tribunal to take account of the total number of hours of work which can be judged objectively necessary for the purpose of those proceedings.

(see paras 25-30, 34)

See:

order in Marcuccio v Commission, T‑515/09 P-DEP, EU:T:2013:269, para. 20

orders in Schönberger v Parliament, F‑7/08 DEP, EU:F:2010:32, para. 29; and Chatzidoukakis v Commission, F‑84/10 DEP, EU:F:2014:41, paras 20 and 22 to 24 and the case-law cited therein

3.      Articles 3 and 4 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union exempt the European Union from all direct taxes and in particular from customs duties with regard to articles intended for official use, while any advantages conceded to the European Union in terms of indirect taxes, such as value added tax, are left to the assessment of the Member States and are subject to the conditions imposed by that Protocol. In any event, purchases of services made by officials and agents when they travel on mission are not exempt from value added tax.

(see para. 47)