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Key facts of the case:

Request for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 TFEU from the Cour constitutionnelle (Belgium), made by decision of 13 November 2014, received at the Court on 27 November 2014, in the proceedings Ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone and Others, Jimmy Tessens and Others, Orde van Vlaamse Balies, Ordre des avocats du barreau d’Arlon and Others v Conseil des ministres, intervening parties: Association Syndicale des Magistrats ASBL, Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.

VAT — Directive 2006/112/EC — Validity and interpretation of the directive — Services provided by lawyers — Liability to VAT — Right to an effective remedy — Equality of arms — Legal aid

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

...the Court (Fourth Chamber) hereby rules:

  1. The examination of Article 1(2) and Article 2(1)(c) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax, in the light of the right to an effective remedy and the principle of equality of arms under Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has not revealed anything which might affect their validity in so far as those provisions impose VAT on services supplied by lawyers to clients who do not qualify for legal aid under a national legal aid scheme.
  2. Article 9(4) and (5) of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, signed at Aarhus on 25 June 1998, cannot be relied on for the purposes of assessing the validity of Article 1(2) and Article 2(1)(c) of Directive 2006/112.
  3. Article 132(1)(g) of Directive 2006/112 must be interpreted as meaning that the services supplied by lawyers for clients who qualify for legal aid under a national legal aid scheme, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, are not exempt from VAT.