EC Law does not usually impose a duty on citizens, but creates a framework
within which the State operates. This means that the advantages for an
individual are restricted.
The concept of "Direct Effect" is a device used by the ECJ to enable a
citizen to use EC law for his personal advantage.
"Direct Applicability" means that EC
law becomes part of the national law without intervention of Parliament.
This is the case for all EC regulations. This is NOT the
case for the Treaties. For example, the
Treaty of Lisbon
2007 has to be ratified according to the national practices of the 27
Member States (i.e. either referenda or votes by the legislator).
Treaties are NOT "directly applicable" in the UK. When
the UK joined the EU, the existing Treaties
became applicable on passing of the
Communities Act 1972.
Thereafter, Treaty obligations take effect by domestic legislation. This
is because the UK has a 'dualist' system legal system (a system which
separates national and international law) which means treaty law has to be
enacted explicitly (by the UK Parliament) into national law in order to
have effect. Otherwise, it only has interpretative value which means the
courts will presume that the legislature does not wish to violate
international obligations undertaken by the executive.
An Example of UK giving effect to Treaty
The European Union
(Accessions) Act 2003 relates to the Treaty concerning the accession
of 10 additional countries joining the EU. To ratify the Treaty the Act of
Parliament was necessary.
S12 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 specifically
declares that no treaty which provides for any increase in the powers of
the European Parliament is to be ratified by the United Kingdom unless it
has been approved by an Act of Parliament.
Not every Treaty article is capable of creating "direct effects", only a
Treaty article (either vertical or horizontal) if it is clear, precise and
unconditional can have direct effect.
What is the difference between Direct Effect
and Direct Applicability?
Direct effect relates to specific rights (e.g. equality between men and
women). Direct applicability relates to an entire legislative act e.g. a
Regulation. So, direct effect does not mean that the provision becomes
part of national law, whereas direct applicability does.
Direct effect means that the rights created by a provision are capable of
being relied upon in UK courts.
What is 'Effect'?
Effect means a provision is applicable, directly or otherwise.
What is 'Applicable'?
Means the provision is part of UK law; it can either be
applicable, requiring no action by Parliament, or made applicable by
Parliament enacting legislation to make it so.
What is 'Directly Applicable'?
Means the UK Parliament need do nothing to implement the law, for example
a Regulation is automatically the law of the UK, see
What is 'Direct Effect'?
Direct effect means that a provisions can create rights which individuals
may rely on before their domestic courts.
What is a provision?
It is a piece of legislation creating rights.
Is the expression 'Direct Effect' relevant
to anything other than Treaty provisions?
Regulations have direct effect and are capable of being invoked either
vertically or horizontally, and are directly applicable.
Directives have vertical direct effect after the date they should be made
part of UK law. They are not directly applicable. They do not have
Horizontal Direct Effect.
What is 'Vertical Direct Effect'?
The provision has effect between citizen and state (or emanation of the
What is 'Horizontal Direct Effect'?
The provision has effect between citizen and citizen
Is there such a thing as 'Vertical Effect'?
It is now called Vertical Direct Effect.
Is there such a thing as 'Horizontal
It is now called Horizontal Direct Effect, or Horizontal Indirect Effect.
The Doctrine of Direct Effect
An example of how direct effect can be used by a citizen.
Article 39 EC (the Treaty of Rome as amended) allows the freedom of
movement of workers, and it has direct effect. Because it has direct
effect it means that Article 39 can be relied upon by an individual in the
Another example, Article 141 EC was relied on in Defrenne v
SABENA (No 2)  ECJ
article 141 provides:
"Each Member State shall
ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for
equal work or work of equal value is applied"
The concept of direct effect is not
contained within the Treaties
It is a concept of direct effect was developed by the European Court of
Justice in the case of Van Gend en Loos
 ECJ. The ECJ
indicated that the concept of direct effect was essential to ensure that
citizens of the Community could enforce Treaty obligations against Member
States and thereby ensure that Community law was made effective in their
national legal systems.
The reasoning in the case makes it clear that the European Court of
Justice considered that effective remedies were paramount in this new
legal order. The case of Van Gend en Loos was also
important in establishing the criteria for defining when a particular
provision should be directly effective. Such a provision should be
'Vertical direct effect' and 'Horizontal
These two expressions simply indicates whether the citizen can invoke EC
laws against the state (vertically) or against another individual
Treaty provisions create horizontal &
vertical direct effect
Defrenne v SABENA (No 2)
An individual can rely on some Treaty articles to enforce rights against
another individual in the national courts.
"The prohibition on
discrimination between men and women applies not only to the action of
public authorities, but also extends to all agreements which are intended
to regulate paid labour collectively, as well as to contracts between
Some Treaty provisions can produce vertical direct effect if, they are
"clear, precise and unconditional" leaving no discretion to Member State
as to implementation. The following case demonstrates this principle.
Macarthys Ltd v Smith,
 ECJ and CA
Wendy Smith was able to rely on a treaty provision together with a
Directive to sue her former employer for equal pay. What happened was
there was conflict with the UK legislation, the Equal Pay Act 1970
and the Directive which covered the same
issue, that of equal pay for men and women.
Regulations produce both horizontal and
vertical direct effects
The Regulation must be clear, precise and unconditional.
Directives produce vertical direct effects
if it is clear, precise and unconditional
Van Duyn v Home Office
This was the first case to be referred to
the European Court of Justice by an English court. The Home Office refused
Miss Van Duyn leave to enter the UK on the grounds of her undesirability.
She was a Dutch national and a practising Scientologist.
Miss Van Duyn attempted to rely on article 48 of the Treaty, and Art 3 of
Directive 64/221, which allowed free movement of workers in the EU.
It was held that the useful effect of directives would be weakened if
individuals were prevented from relying on them before national courts.
Since the directive laid down an obligation, which was not subject to any
exception or condition, and by its nature did not require intervention on
the part of the Community or Member State, it was to be regarded as
directly effective conferring enforceable individual rights, which
national courts must protect. However, a member state
could refuse leave to enter its territory on the ground of association
with an organisation whose activities were deemed to be contrary to the
public good. It was immaterial that the organisation is not actually
unlawful and that nationals of member state are permitted to work for it.
So, Miss Van Duyn was refused entry.
An unimplemented Directive can only become
effective after the date for implementation has past
Publico Ministerio v Ratti
Directive must be clear, precise and unconditional. A Directive can only
become directly effective after time limit for its implementation has
passed. Directives have to be implemented by the state within the
timescale laid down in the Directive An individual cannot invoke a
Directive against another individual – it cannot have horizontal direct
A Directive can be used vertically against a
Marshall v Southampton & SW Hampshire AHA
ECJ held that a Directive could be invoked vertically against a public
"a Directive may not
of itself impose obligations on an individual and…a provision of a
Directive may not be relied upon as such against a person."
Mrs Marshall wanted to continue working at Southampton Teaching Hospital
(a public body) and complained that women were required to retire at 60,
whereas men, could retire at 65.
There was no breach of UK law, but Mrs Marshall could rely on an
unimplemented Directive on equal treatment of men and women.
This decision confirmed that a directive could only be used against a
state or a public body - vertically - and not against another private
individual or private body - horizontally.
An emanation of the state
Directive has no horizontal direct effect, but it could have vertical
effect against a public body. So the definition of a "public body" was
crucial. The meaning of a public body was decided in the following case.
Foster v British Gas
"a Directive might be
relied on against organisation or bodies which were subject to the
authority or control of the State or had special powers beyond those which
result from the normal relations between individuals."
Directive might be invoked against "a body whatever its legal form, which
has been made responsible pursuant to a measure adopted by the State for
providing a public service under the control of the State and has for that
purpose special powers beyond those which result from the normal rules
applicable in relations between individuals."
So, British Gas a recently privatised company was held to be
an emanation of the state.
Duke v GEC Reliance Ltd
Mrs Duke was not able to rely on an equal treatment directive because her
employer was a private company. She could not use the principle of
horizontal effect. Of course, Mrs Marshall was able to succeed against her
employer because they were controlled by the state.
The Doctrine of Indirect Effect
Where a Directive has not been implemented by Member State or has been
inadequately implemented an individual can take action against another
individual by using the concept of “indirect effect”
Von Colson v Land Nordrhein-Westfahlen
Article 5 EC requires Member States to "take all appropriate measures" to
ensure fulfilment of Community obligations. And this means that courts
must interpret national law so as to ensure the objectives of Directive
are achieved. This requires an effective remedy that has a deterrent
effect and is adequate in relation to the damage sustained.
A Directive cannot of itself impose
obligations on private parties
Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA
Therefore, national courts must as far as possible interpret national law
in the light of the wording and purpose of the Directive in order to
achieve the result pursued by the Directive. This obligation applies
whether the national provisions in question were adopted before or after
national courts were 'required' to interpret domestic law in such a way as
to ensure that the objectives of the Directive were achieved. So, courts
must do everything possible to interpret domestic law to comply with
State Liability when there is no domestic
law on a matter to which a Directive relates or domestic law is totally
contrary to EC law
Francovich v Italy
Sometimes referred to as the 'Francovich Doctrine' or the 'Francovich
Principle'. Francovich focused on the primary liability of Member State
for a failure to fulfil a Community obligation. Although the Directive was
not sufficiently clear and precise to be directly effective against the
State, Italy was under an obligation to implement it under Article 5 EC.
And since Italy had failed to do so, it was under a duty to compensate
individuals for damage suffered as a result of its failure if
it is possible to
identify the content of these rights from the Directive; and
there is a causal link
between the State's failure to implement the Directive and the damage
suffered by the individual.
Therefore the state was liable to compensate for loss as a result of the
state’s failure to implement an EU directive within the required time
Faccini Dori v Recreb
The Francovich principle was used by Ms Dori who relied on a Council
Directive (that had not become part of Italian law) to withdraw from an
English language course. The Directive allowed consumers to cancel
contracts within seven days if the contract had been made away from
business premises - in this case at railway station. Mss Dori could not
rely on the Directive against a private body but that she should be able
to gain compensation from the Italian state.