Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas
On 4 March 2020, the First Chamber of the Court delivered its judgment in Case C-183/18, which concerns the interpretation of Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties. The request for a preliminary ruling was lodged by a Polish court, which received from Dutch authorities a request for recognition and enforcement of a Dutch decision issued on 25 November 2016. That decision imposed a fine for a road traffic offence on the driver of a vehicle belonging to Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas Gdańsk, a legal entity that is based in Gdańsk (Poland) indeed. The Polish legislation that implemented the Framework Decision uses the term ‘offender’ to define the scope ratione personae of the transposing legislation. In the Code of Criminal Procedure, however, that term includes only natural persons whereas, under Articles 1 and 9 of the Framework Decision, that Framework Decision also applies to decisions imposing financial penalties on legal persons. The referring court therefore asks, first, whether it shall disapply the national rule that runs afoul of the Framework Decision provisions or replace it with the rule contained in the Framework Decision. The Court replies to this question by stating that the Framework Decision does not have direct effect and cannot therefore lead to the disapplication of incompatible national law. However, the referring court shall interpret its national law, to the greatest extent possible, in conformity with EU law, to ensure an outcome that is compatible with the objective pursued by the framework decision concerned.
Second, the referring court seeks clarification on the concept of ‘legal persons’ by asking, on the one hand, whether this is an autonomous concept of EU law (or whether it shall be instead interpreted according to the law of the issuing or executing Member State) and, on the other, whether it also covers a branch of a legal person notwithstanding the fact that that branch does not have legal personality in the executing State. This second limb of the second question is linked with the fact that, according to Polish law, Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas Gdańsk has no legal personality (i.e. no capacity to act as a party in judicial proceedings) separate from that of Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas S.A., whose seat is in Warsaw. The Court replies to this question by stating that the concept of 'legal persons' shall be interpreted according to the law of the issuing Member State.
Case Number C-183/18
Name of the parties Centraal Justitieel Incassobureau (CJIB) v Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas
Date of the judgement 2020-03-04
Court Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)