Dalli appeal to EU Court decision that dismissed damages claim could be rejected

European Court of Justice’s Advocate General advises that action by John Dalli against EC and OLAF should be rejected

John Dalli
John Dalli

The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General has advised that an action by former European Commissioner John Dalli against the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) should be rejected, ahead of a decision by the General Court.

Dalli is appealing a 2019 judgement by the General Court which dismissed his action for compensation for the harm purportedly suffered  as a result of allegedly illegal conduct of the EC and OLAF when he resigned his post in October 2012.

In 2015, the General Court had already dismissed an action by Dalli to annul the ‘oral decision’ of his 2012 termination from office and €1.9 million in material damages. The ECJ dismissed an appeal in 2016.

Dalli however brought another action before the General Court for compensation for the damage, in particular non-material damage, caused to him by the alleged unlawful conduct of the Commission, including OLAF, connected with the termination of his office as a Member of the Commission.

The AG Maciej Szpunar noted that the objective impartiality of OLAF could not be called into question by the participation of its director, then Giovanni Kessler, in the investigation. Nor does the participation in the investigation of a member of a national authority, call into question OLAF’s impartiality, the AG said.

Dalli claims he suffered damages as a result of the termination of his office.

He resigned his office in September 2012 after he was faced by accusations from then Commission president José Barroso over an OLAF investigation that showed he had been in contact with restaurateur Silvio Zammit when the latter had been soliciting bribes from a Swedish snuff tobacco company seeking the end of a retail ban on its products.

“Dalli has not shown the existence of unlawful conduct on the part of OLAF or the Commission and has not established the existence of a sufficiently direct causal link between the conduct complained off and the alleged damage, or even the existence of the latter,” the General Court said in 2019.

The General Court said there must be a sufficiently serious breach of a rule of law intended to confer rights on individuals, to satisfy a complaint on the unlawfulness of the conduct of the institutions. “Mr Dalli fails to show the existence of unlawful conduct on the part of OLAF or the Commission. By way of an examination for the sake of completeness, the Court concludes that Mr Dalli does not establish the existence of a sufficiently direct causal link between the conduct complained of and the damage alleged, or even the existence of the latter. Mr Dalli’s action is therefore dismissed.”

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