On 21 January 2015 the General Court handed down its judgment in Makhlouf.
Makhlouf concerned an application for annulment of Council Implementing Decision 2011/488/CFSP, Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP and Council Decision 2012/739/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria, in so far as it applied to Mr Makhlouf. He had been on the Syrian sanctions list since 2011 due to his alleged association and his relationship with the Al-Assad and Makhlouf families.
The General Court held that:
- The Council had not infringed the applicant's rights of defence or his right to a fair hearing. Notably, the EU authorities could not be required to communicate the grounds for listing before the name of a person or entity had been entered on the sanctions list. Such prior communication would be liable to jeopardise the effectiveness of the measures. Failure to notify to the applicant Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP and Council Decision 2012/739/CFSP did not breach his rights of defence as the reasons for listing the applicant in those two instruments were the same as for the previous Council Implementing Decision 2011/488/CFSP.
- The grounds relied upon by the Council had provided the applicant with sufficient information to enable him to contest their validity, and the Council had not made an error of assessment. On the basis of the evidence it had brought, the Council was entitled to take the view that Mr Makhlouf was connected with and gave economic support to the Syrian ruling family.
- The Council had not infringed the applicant's fundamental rights (including the principle of proportionality, the right to property and the right to privacy). In particular, the right to privacy did not protect against a loss of purchasing power, and thus the asset-freezing measures did not infringe this right by lowering the living standards of the applicant's family.
- In conclusion, the application for annulment of Council Implementing Decision 2011/488/CFSP, Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP and Council Decision 2012/739/CFSP was rejected.
Case T-509/11 Mohammad Makhlouf v Council, 21 January 2015, currently only available in French.