Press Release

White & Case Advises Mercedes Benz France (Daimler AG) on Successful Dispute with French Government

Global law firm White & Case LLP has achieved a substantial victory on behalf of German car manufacturer Daimler and its French subsidiary, Mercedes Benz France, in a major case before the Conseil d'Etat, the highest French administrative court, which marks the end of their dispute against the French authorities.

The dispute concerned an order from the French government which prevented the registration of several of the car maker's models. Daimler and Mercedes Benz France had been accused by the French government of not complying with EU rules which, on environmental grounds, impose a progressive reduction of the use in cars of an air-conditioning refrigerant that is currently widely used.

Although the German automobile authority, KBA, delivered Europe-wide valid type approvals allowing the sale of the new Mercedes-Benz models, the French administration has blocked the registration of thousands of A, B, CLA and SL class vehicles since June 2013. In its preliminary ruling of August 27, 2013, the Conseil d'Etat had ordered that the government’s decision be suspended.

In its final ruling of 5 May, 2014, the Conseil d’Etat confirmed all arguments raised by the manufacturer and ordered that the government’s order be permanently lifted.

Daimler and Mercedes Benz France were 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 with support from associates Orion Berg and Jean-François Le Corre. The Berlin team was led by partner Norbert Wimmer with support from counsel Christoph Arhold and local partner Benjamin Schirmer.

The Daimler in-house team was led by Associate General Counsel Dr. Klaus Schartel, who was assisted by Senior Counsel Thomas Frangenberg. In France, the matter was handled in-house by Marie-Claude Bidaut, Legal & Compliance Director of Mercedes Benz France, and Harry Salamon.

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