Language of document : ECLI:EU:T:2016:173

Case T‑561/14

European Citizens’ Initiative ‘One of Us’ and Others

v

European Commission

(Intervention — Interest in the result of the case — Representative association the purpose of which is to defend the interests of its members — Publication on the internet of the application to intervene — Abuse of procedure)

Summary — Order of the President of the First Chamber of the General Court, 16 March 2016

1.      Judicial proceedings — Intervention — Admissibility criteria — Interest in the result of the case — Concept — Need for a direct and existing interest

(Statute of the Court of Justice, Arts 40, second para., and 53, first para.)

2.      Judicial proceedings — Intervention — Persons having an interest — Representative association having as its object the protection of its members — Admissibility in cases raising questions of principle liable to affect those members — Conditions — Broad interpretation

(Statute of the Cour of Justice, Arts 40, second para., and 53, first para.)

3.      Judicial proceedings — Treatment of cases before the General Court — Protection given to parties against misuse of pleadings and other procedural documents — Scope — Publication of an application for leave to intervene on the internet — Abuse of procedure — Account to be taken when allocating costs

(Rules of Procedure of the General Court, Art. 135(2); Instructions to the Registrar of the General Court, Art. 5(8))

1.      See the text of the decision.

(see paras 19, 45)

2.      See the text of the decision.

(see paras 24, 25, 43)

3.      According to the rules governing the treatment of cases before the General Court, particularly Article 5(8) of the Instructions to the Registrar, parties are entitled to protection against the misuse of procedural documents. That protection reflects a general principle in the due administration of justice according to which parties have the right to defend their interests free from all external influences and particularly from influences on the part of members of the public.

It follows that a party who is granted access to the procedural documents of other parties is entitled to use those documents only for the purpose of pursuing his own case and for no other purpose, including that of inciting criticism on the part of the public in relation to arguments raised by other parties in the case. Thus, the objective of the prohibition on a party’s use of its right of access to procedural documents for purposes other than those connected with the pursuit of its own case is to ensure that the general principle of the due administration of justice is observed and not to protect the supposedly confidential content of those documents.

That assists in ensuring that, throughout the judicial proceedings, the exchange of argument by the parties and the deliberations of the Court in the case before it take place in an atmosphere of total serenity, and avoids exposing judicial activities to external pressure, albeit only in the perception of the public, and disturbing the serenity of the proceedings.

Conduct contrary to the abovementioned aspect of the general principle of the due administration of justice constitutes an abuse of procedure which may be taken into account in awarding costs.

Furthermore, the protection accorded to the parties to judicial proceedings by reason of the abovementioned aspect of the general principle of the due administration of justice must apply to a prospective intervener before the Court. That prospective intervener takes part in the judicial activities and, on that basis, he must be entitled to the same level of protection as the parties to the proceedings as regards the possibility of defending his interests free from all external influences and particularly from influences on the part of members of the public.

The publication of the application to intervene on an internet site, presenting the applicant for leave to intervene in a negative light and aimed at engendering in members of the public negative feelings towards that applicant, constitutes an abuse of procedure that may be taken into account when allocating costs pursuant to Article 135(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

(see paras 49-53, 60, 61)