Advocate General Bot handed down his opinion today (8 January 2015) in Syrian sanctions appeal C-605/13 P and C-630/13 P Issam Anbouba v Council (available here in French).
The opinion contains an interesting analysis of the case law of the European court on presumptions. Advocate General Bot summarises the Court of Justice’s judgements in Tay Za, Kadi II and Kala Naft as requiring the Council to discharge its burden of proving the facts justifying a listing in an EU sanctions measure on a sufficiently solid factual basis, and that the application of a presumption may or not be significant depending on the context. He criticised the General Court (the court below) for relying only on a presumption that Mr Anbouba, as a successful businessman in Syria, supports the Assad regime (the relevant criterion for inclusion in the EU’s Syria sanctions), but considered that on the facts the Council had discharged its burden of proof, given the undisputed facts in the case.
Advocate General’s opinions do not bind the Court of Justice (the ECJ notably did not follow AG Bot’s opinion in Kadi II – see previous blog). The next stage of the case will be the ECJ’s judgment.