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Protecting Its Exclusive Jurisdiction: The Mox Plant-judgment of the ECJ

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In the judgment in Case C-459/03, Commission v Ireland, the ECJ for the first time explicitly determined the scope of its exclusive jurisdiction based on Article 292 EC. The ECJ interpreted its jurisdiction very expansively in order to protect its exclusive jurisdiction to interpret and apply Community law. Accordingly, EU Member States involved in a dispute that potentially raises issues of Community law are not allowed to bring the case before a dispute settlement body other than the ECJ. Furthermore, Member States have the duty to inform and consult the Community institutions prior of bringing a case before another dispute settlement body. Otherwise, the ECJ claims, the danger arises that the autonomy of the Community legal order and its exclusive jurisdiction may adversely be affected by rulings of other international courts or tribunals in disputes that also touch on EC law. With this judgment the ECJ substantially restricted the right of the EU Member States to select a dispute settlement system of their choice. Moreover, this expansive interpretation by the ECJ of its exclusive jurisdiction limits the exercise of the jurisdiction of other international courts and tribunals that are called upon to adjudicate on a dispute that possibly involves Community law.

It is submitted that with this extensive understanding of its exclusive jurisdiction, the ECJ is unduly restricting the sovereign right of the Member States to select the dispute settlement system of their choice as well as interfering in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the other international courts and tribunals.


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