Key facts of the case:
In an interim decision, the Market Court had rejected Arla Ingman Oy Ab’s request to be granted a party or intervener status in a pending case before the Market Court concerning an appeal made by Arla Ingman’s competitor, Valio Oy, against the decision of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. According to the Market Court, the interim decision could not be appealed. Nevertheless, Arla Ingman appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court which dismissed the appeal. The court noted that an interim decision of the Market Court is not a decision resolving or dismissing a case but a procedural order which cannot be separately appealed under the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act. The Supreme Administrative Court then assessed whether Arla Ingman should nonetheless be granted the right to have the legality of the Market Court’s procedural order reviewed separately by the Supreme Administrative Court, in order to protect the company’s rights under EU law or other laws or to guarantee the company’s legal safeguards. The court concluded in the negative. The decision of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority was addressed to Valio Oy and only had an indirect influence on Arla Ingman’s rights, obligations or interests. Also, the Market Court had provided Arla Ingman with the right to be heard in relation to Valio Oy’s appeal and the company had thus the possibility to present its views before the Market Court in order to protect its interests.
According to Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are violated has a right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article. Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law. [...] According to settled case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the principle of effective judicial protection is a general principle of Community law stemming from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, which has been enshrined in Articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. [...] As noted above, the decision of the Market Court is not the kind of decision which can be separately appealed under section 5-1 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act. On the basis of what has been presented above it can also not be concluded that the protection of Arla Ingman’s rights under EU law or other laws or guaranteeing its legal safeguards would require that the company should nevertheless have the right to have the legality of the Market Court’s procedural order separately reviewed by the Supreme Administrative Court.