The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has refused permission for various bodies, including the Law Society of England & Wales, the American Bar Association and the Association of General Counsel and Company Secretaries of the FTSE 100 (the GC100), to intervene in the appeal to the ECJ in the long-running Akzo Nobel case. The appeal is from the much criticised decision of the European Court of First Instance in which it refused to extend the scope of legal professional privilege to communications between parties and their in-house lawyers in the context of EU competition law (Akzo Nobel Chemicals Limited and Akros Chemicals Limited v Commission of the European Communities - see our e-bulletin of 18 September 2007).
The refusal to grant permission to the GC100 was given on the grounds that neither it nor its members have a "direct interest in the result" and the court felt the appeal was case-specific and the issues raised were therefore not sufficiently closely connected to the aims of the group. The appeal has the support of the British, Irish and Dutch governments and the lower court has already given permission for interventions from certain legal institutions including the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the International Bar Association. The Law Society’s application was refused because it is a member of the CCBE and was unable to show that it had a separate interest from that body which represents lawyers at an EU level.