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Sources - Sovereignty, supremacy of EC law reluctantly applied in UK courts

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If a provision of national law conflicts with a provision of EC law, then EC law should prevail in UK courts.

Simmenthal v Commission [1980] ECJ

"It follows [...] that every national court must, in a case within its jurisdiction, apply Community law in its entirety and protect rights which the latter confers on individuals and must accordingly set aside any provision of national law which may conflict with it, whether prior or subsequent to the Community rule."

"A national court ... is under a duty to give full effect to those provisions, if necessary refusing of its own motion to apply any conflicting provision of national legislation, even if adopted subsequently...."

Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v Einfuhr [1970] ECJ

"the law stemming from the Treaty…cannot…be overridden by rules of national law….[T]he validity of a Community measure or its effect within a Member State cannot be affected by allegations that it runs counter to either fundamental rights [in]…the constitution of the State or the principles of a national constitutional structure."

EC law prevails where EC Directives, which are not directly effective, are involved

Duke v GEC Reliance Ltd [1988] HL

The principles of indirect effect were not applied.

Lord Templeman:

"S.2 (4) ECA 1972 does not…enable or constrain a British court to distort the meaning of a British statute in order to enforce against an individual a Community Directive which has no direct effect between individuals."

Litster v Forth Dry Dock and Engineering Co [1990] 

The House of Lords implemented the directive by using the purposive approach to interpret legislation.

Finnegan v Clowney Youth Training Programme Ltd [1990] 

HL reverted to Duke position.

Where there is a clear conflict between domestic and EC law, UK courts appear reluctant to apply Von Colson principle.

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