The Legacy of Advocate General Jacobs at the European Court of Justice
Edited by Philip Moser and Katrine Sawyer
Chapter 10: Temporal Limitation in EU Law
10. Temporal limitation in EU law David Vaughan1 INTRODUCTION The basic principle in EU law (as in many other legal systems) is that, in the absence of express legislative powers and subject to rulings as to temporal limitation, judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (and of the Court of First Instance) establish the law as it ought to have been understood and applied from the date of its entry into force. That is to say, a ruling is to apply ex tunc and not ex nunc. It is in this field of temporal limitation that Sir Francis Jacobs has very recently delivered an Opinion of the very greatest importance inviting the Court to adopt an innovative step. In the case of a regulation, Article 231 EC makes express provision to permit the Courts, as an exception to annulling the measure, to state which of the effects of that measure should be considered as being definitive, if the Court considers this to be necessary. This Article has been applied by the Court to measures other than regulations, such as directives and decisions. In so doing the Court takes into account in particular the aims of the measure in question and the need to ensure legal certainty. Thus these powers have been used in certain cases to preserve the past effects of an annulled act (e.g. a budget) or to declare that the measure is to remain in force until the competent authority has taken the appropriate remedial actions under...
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