Legal Advice about the EC Law Case
At the onset, it seemed clear that Ms. Ericson was legally responsible for her use of the EC grant as it appears that she has diverted the grant to use for her own personal interest. Apparently, the EC investigation’s result which was included in its annual activity report on the ERUSSIF mobility scheme indicated that Ms. Ericson was in question due to her inappropriate use of the grant. In the light of the EC requirements on publishing reports, it appears that Ms. Ericson has the right for her claims.
Legal Advice for Mr. Joricson regarding his opinion that Ms. Ericson does not fulfill the requirements for the award of ERUSSIF grants
Mr. Joricson has all the right to challenge the grant given to Ms Ericson before any EC courts if only to review the Commission’s decision. Under the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, Mr Joricson can petition to review the Commission’s decision of granting the awards to Ericson and to contest the legality of such decision. In this case, Mr. Joricson can cite the provision of article 230 of the EC treaty. This EC law concerns about the violation of an essential requirement, lack of competence, breach of this treaty or of any law concerning to its application.
I would advice Mr Joricson to first settle some important questions first before he does any action to challenge the award of the grant. First, what would be his intention? Second, is he referring to the Commission’s decision to grant the award to Ms Ericson or to the qualification of Ms Ericson which in his opinion did not qualify for the grant of the award? If Mr. Joricson intended to merely correct the Commission’s supposed mistake, he could file his appeal in the Court of First Instance (CFI) citing the supposed violations of the Commission of the provision of article 230 of the EC treaty. However, if Mr Joricson intended to cite the qualification of Ms Ericson directly accusing the Commission of deliberate violation of the EC laws, I would advice Mr. Joricson to hire the best lawyer as he would be facing a legal battle against the Commission.
Can Ms. Ericson claim that she suffered harm to her health as the result of the commission investigation?
Yes! She can! Regardless of what she did, she has the right to be given due process at the proper forum. The information contained in the commission’s investigation result which was made public through its inclusion in its annual activity report on the ERUSSIF mobility scheme, accordingly was made it easy to identify the person mentioned in the report. In this case Ms. Ericson was publicly identified. She was subjected to trial by publicity which must have damaged her reputation through the intrigues and negative feedbacks she might have suffered. These could have easily triggered emotional, mental, and physical stress resulting her to suffer harm in her health.
Can she commence a judicial action in order to rectify the harm she suffered?
Yes! If the claims of Ms Ericson that the information given to be included in the commission’s annual public report, made it particularly easy to identify her, was true; the commission obviously, had violated the EC laws on “business secrecy.” The EC law particularly article 214 and article 20 of Regulation 17/62 expressly guarantees professional secrecy. The EC law under Article 10 ECHR also guarantees the fundamental rights of the individual against trial by news paper or trial by publicity. Further more, the expression of article 8 ECHR requires that domestic law itself be compatible with minimum standards of the rule of law. In the case of Ms Ericson, it appears that the commission did not submit to the minimum standards of the rule of law.
In view of these arguments, Ms Ericson can rightly commence a judicial action in order to rectify the harm she suffered. The Commission obviously violated all the provisions cited above by narrowly withholding the identity of the person to whom the information of the report was obtained. If Ms Ericson’s claim that her identity could be easily identified and that it was clear that she was the person in question in the Commission’s report, then the case could easily fall into trial by publicity in which under article 10 ECHR, the fundamental rights of the individual are guaranteed and are protected.
What should she plea in support of such action if you think that she has access to a judicial action for the purpose of rectifying the harm she suffered as the result of investigation?
Miss Ericson could plea for the provisions of Article 10 ECHR which guarantee her fundamental rights not to be subjected to trial by publicity. Indeed, there are two other EC provisions that Ms Ericson can cite to support her claim. First, the commission has a duty to preserve its business in secret, under article 214 of the treaty. Article 214 requires officials and servants of the community not to disclose information in their possession of the kind covered by professional secrecy. Obviously, Ms Ericson’s case was covered by the provision of this EC law. The other was article 20 of Regulation 17/62 which induces similar obligation. While this Regulation practiced this duty so as to permit the intervenor to exercise its right to be heard, this practice does not extend to documents. In other words, even if there are some exemptions regarding this Regulation, as long as it does not present threat to the community, the individual’s rights are upheld by this regulation.
Ms Ericson can file a suit against the Commission before the EC law courts in view of the Commission’s violation of her fundamental rights guaranteed by the EC laws.
Is there any general principle of EC law breached by the Commission decision concerning its refusal to disclose the documents requested by Ms Ericson?
It appears that the Commission decision has breached some of the EC law particularly those relating to the provisions of human rights. While the Commission decision to withhold information was based on the business secrecy provisions, it was apparent that the Commission violated some of the EC law by not adequately protecting the identity of Ms Ericson when they made their reports in public. It meant therefore that denying Ms Ericson access to the document requested that is needed to prepare her response to the Commission is denying her of her own rights to defend herself.
In effect, the Commission breaches the EC laws that guarantees the fundamental rights of Ms Ericson particularly article 10 ECHR, article 20 of Regulation 17/62 and article 214 which are guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of the individual.