Global law firm White & Case LLP achieved a substantial victory on behalf of Daimler, the German car manufacturer, and its French subsidiary Mercedes Benz France, in a major case before the Conseil d'Etat, the highest French administrative court.
The dispute concerns an order from the French government preventing the registration of several of the car maker's models. Daimler and Mercedes Benz France have been accused by the French Government and the EU Commission of not complying with EU environmental rules which impose a progressive reduction of the use in cars of the R134a air-conditioning refrigerant on the grounds that it contains a highly potent global warming gas, and thereby distorting competition.
Although the German automobile authority, KBA, delivered approvals allowing the sale of the new Mercedes, the French administration blocked the registration of approximately 4,500 of the car maker's A, B, CLA and SL class vehicles since June 2013.
In a ruling on Tuesday August 27 by the Conseil d'Etat, the government was ordered to lift the ban and ensure within two days that the car models in question can be registered.
"The French Supreme administrative court supported all arguments raised by Daimler Mercedes Benz," said White & Case Paris-based partner Jean-Paul Tran Thiet. "It considered the blocking decision was infringing the system of mutual recognition of car approvals within the EU and that the conditions for using a safeguard procedure were not met because the vehicles concerned could not be regarded as a serious threat to the environment."
Berlin-based partner Norbert Wimmer said: "This victory highlights our ability to streamline cooperation between cross-border teams to serve industry leaders navigating through complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. It also illustrates our prominent expertise in EU Law and Regulatory issues and our knowledge of the automotive sector."
Daimler and Mercedes Benz France are represented by the Paris and Berlin offices of White & Case in relation to the EU Commission and the German government respectively. The Paris team was led by partner Jean-Paul Tran Thiet, supported by associates Orion Berg and Jean-François Le Corre. The Berlin team was led by partners Norbert Wimmer and Markus Burianski with support from counsel Christoph Arhold and associate Benjamin Schirmer.
Mercedes Benz France was also represented by Denis Garreau, avocat au Conseil d'Etat et à la Cour de cassation (SCP Bernard Peignot - Denis Garreau - Catherine Bauer-Violas).
The Daimler inhouse team was led by Associate General Counsel Dr. Klaus Schartel who was assisted by Senior Counsel Thomas Frangenberg. In France, the matter was handled inhouse by Marie-Claude Bidaut, Legal and Compliance Director of Mercedes Benz France.
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