Netherlands / Supreme Court / 16/01180 Accused v Public Prosecutor

Key facts of the case: 

A legal person transferred two containers with used paper from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia by ship, against the rules of the European Waste Shipment Regulation 1013/2006 for the transfer of waste products. It had been warned in writing in Scotland by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (hereinafter: SEPA) after it had checked the containers that it had not met the requirements of the Regulation and that a future infringement of the legislation would lead to the submission oof a report to the Scottish Procurator Fiscal, recommending the prosecution of the legal person. When the ship arrived in the Netherlands, the Public Prosecutor prosecuted the legal person due to infringement of the Regulation. The legal person alleged that it could not be prosecuted, as it had already been warned in Scotland (“ne bis in idem”). The Supreme Court judges that the Court of Appeal, which held that the warning by the SEPA did not meet the requirements of the following stipulation from the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 between the Governments of the States of the Benelux Economic Union, the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on the gradual abolition of checks at their common borders  (Article 54): A person whose trial has been finally disposed of in one Contracting Party may not be prosecuted in another Contracting Party for the same acts provided that, if a penalty has been imposed, it has been enforced, is actually in the process of being enforced or can no longer be enforced under the laws of the sentencing Contracting Party. The SEPA has no power to finalize criminal proceedings. The same reasoning goes for Article 50 of the Charter, which also prohibits double proceedings. This is not the case here, however, so the Dutch Public Prosecutor can prosecute the legal person in spite of the final warning by the SEPA.

Outcome of the case:

The SEPA in Scotland is not a body that finalizes criminal proceedings, so prosecution in another Member State, the Netherlands, is still possible. 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

3.1. The following stipulations are important:

-Art. 50 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter: the Charter):

“No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings for an offence for which he or she has already been finally acquitted or convicted within the Union in accordance with the law.”

4.3.2.

The Court of Appeal did not interpret the law wrong with respect to the stiulation laid down in Article 54 of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement, taking into account that the Court of Appeal apparently judged that the letter from the SEPA, containg a “final warning” could not count as a decision of an authority which has as a duty in the specific national jurisdiction to take parte in criminal proceedings, ending the prosecurtion, as referred to in consideration 39 of the case cited under 3.2. For the same reason, the allegation as far as it refers to Article 50 of the Charter, fails, too (cf. ECJ 27 May 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:586, case C-129/14 (Spacic), consideration 59).

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

3.1. De volgende bepalingen zijn van belang:

- art. 50 Handvest van de grondrechten van de Europese Unie (hierna: het Handvest):

"Niemand wordt opnieuw berecht of gestraft in een strafrechtelijke procedure voor een strafbaar feit waarvoor hij in de Unie reeds onherroepelijk is vrijgesproken of veroordeeld overeenkomstig de wet."

4.3.2.

Het Hof heeft evenmin blijk gegeven van een onjuiste rechtsopvatting met betrekking tot het bepaalde in art. 54 SUO, in aanmerking genomen dat naar ꞌs Hofs kennelijke oordeel de brief van SEPA, inhoudende een "final warning", niet kan gelden als een beslissing van een autoriteit die tot taak heeft in de desbetreffende nationale rechtsorde deel te nemen aan de rechtsbedeling in strafzaken en die de strafvervolging definitief beëindigt, zoals bedoeld in punt 39 van het onder 3.2 geciteerde arrest. Op diezelfde grond kan ook de klacht voor zover deze betrekking heeft op art. 50 Handvest, niet slagen (vgl. HvJ EU 27 mei 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:586, zaak C-129/14 (Spacic), punt 59). 

 

Language: 
Dutch
Deciding body (original language): 
Hoge Raad
Language: 
Dutch