On 12 February 2015 the General Court handed down its judgment in Akhras, a key sanctions case.

Akhras concerned a challenge to Mr Akhras' listing pursuant to the EU's restrictive measures against Syria. Mr Akhras was originally listed in 2011 and subsequently relisted in 2012 and 2013 for being a "[p]rominent businessman benefiting from and supporting the regime" in Syria.

The General Court held that:

  • The applicant's request that the Court declare that the challenged instruments do not apply to him was rejected. Such applications involved a finding or a declaration on the part of the Court. An application seeking a declaratory judgment was to be rejected for lack of jurisdiction. "It is clear from settled case-law that the Court, in the context of a review of legality based on Article 263 TFEU, does not have jurisdiction to give declaratory judgments (see, to that effect, the order of 25 November 2008 in Case C-500/07 P TEA v Commission, not published in the ECR, paragraph 33, and Case T-145/06 Omya v Commission [2009] ECR II-145, paragraph 23)".
  • On the applicant's challenge to his 2012 listing, the Council had failed to comply with its obligation to state reasons. Simply stating that the applicant was the founder of the Akhras Group did not automatically mean that he was involved in civilian repression, or supported or benefited from the Syrian regime. Moreover, the statement that the applicant provided support for the Syrian regime had not been substantiated with supporting information.
  • On the subsequent listing, the lack of individual notification of the contested acts did not, on its own, justify annulment of the acts in question, as lack of such notification had not demonstrably resulted in an interference with the applicant's rights of defence.
  • The reasons for the applicant's subsequent listing offered by the Council were sufficient. "They set out the significant roles played by the applicant in the Syrian business world, his links with the person principally responsible for the repression in Syria and the type of support which the applicant is alleged to have provided to the regime". Moreover, the Council had been entitled to rely on the presumption that a leading businessman such as the applicant provided the Syrian regime with economic support.
  • In conclusion, the applicant's 2012 listing was annulled, but his 2013 listing was upheld.

Case T-579/11 Tarif Akhras v Council, 12 February 2015