Key facts of the case:
These cases involved references for a preliminary ruling. It concerned the interpretation of the principle of effective judicial protection in relation to national legislation under which an attempt to achieve an out of-court settlement is a mandatory condition for the admissibility before the courts of actions in certain disputes between providers and end-users under Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on Universal Service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services. The references were submitted in the context of four disputes regarding alleged breaches of the contracts binding the parties and concerning the provision of telephone services.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The ECJ ruled that "Article 34 of the Universal Service Directive must be interpreted as not precluding legislation of a Member State under which the admissibility before the courts of actions relating to electronic communications services between end-users and providers of those services, concerning the rights conferred by that directive, is conditional upon an attempt to settle the dispute out of court; Nor do the principles of equivalence and effectiveness or the principle of effective judicial protection preclude national legislation which imposes, in respect of such disputes, prior implementation of an out-of-court settlement procedure, provided that that procedure does not result in a decision which is binding on the parties, that it does not cause a substantial delay for the purposes of bringing legal proceedings, that it suspends the period for the time-barring of claims and that it does not give rise to costs – or gives rise to very low costs – for the parties, and only if electronic means is not the only means by which the settlement procedure may be accessed and interim measures are possible in exceptional cases where the urgency of the situation so requires."
Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - Article: 47 "The principle of effective judicial protection is a general principle of EU law stemming from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, which has been enshrined in Articles 6 and 13 of the ECHR and which has also been reaffirmed by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."