Published: Monday 15 April 1996

In a momentous order given last month, the European Court of Justice ruled that European Union (EU) states must compensate individuals and companies for losses ensuing from government failure to implement EU laws correctly. The UK has been sued by 97 Spanish and Dutch fisherfolk for upto US $47.5 million after it refused foreign-owned boats licences to fish in British waters in 1988. The latest ruling might force Germany to compensate a French brewery stopped from exporting beer. Several British companies providing contracted-out services are thinking of seeking damages for the faulty implementation of the European Acquired Rights Directive, 1977.

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