As correctly predicted by John Doherty, a commercial disputes and regulatory partner at Penningtons Manches, on the BBC’s World Business News this morning, the General Court has today dismissed in its entirety Dyson’s action for annulment of the EU Commission’s regulation on energy testing and labelling of vacuum cleaners.
In its judgment, the court held that Dyson had failed to demonstrate that there were more reliable, accurate and reproducible tests than those adopted by the Commission in its regulation supplementing the underlying EU Directive.
Since 1 September 2014, all vacuum cleaners sold in the EU have been subject to energy labelling requirements, the detailed rules of which are fixed by the Commission in its regulation, the subject of the challenge by Dyson Ltd. The energy labelling is aimed, among other things, at informing consumers of energy efficiency levels and cleaning performance of vacuum cleaners, importantly, tested with an empty receptacle (bag - or cylinder in Dyson’s case). The regulation does not provide for testing of vacuum cleaners with the dust receptacle loaded.
Dyson, which designs and manufactures bagless vacuum cleaners based on ‘cyclonic’ technology, in essence argued that the test used by the Commission to measure energy efficiency levels of vacuum cleaners placed its products at a disadvantage in relation to bagged vacuum cleaners. Dyson therefore asked the General Court of the European Union to annul the Commission’s regulation.
In his interview on the BBC’s World Business News (click here to watch the broadcast), John Doherty noted the very high hurdle faced by Dyson (or any party) seeking to have a piece of European law annulled. Although not unprecedented, such rulings are extremely rare. Although Dyson Ltd’s vacuum cleaners could be viewed as having superior technology, which does not benefit from the current energy testing regime, as found by the General Court, that does not equate with the current regime being inadequate, based on the lack of evidence adduced by Dyson (as found by the Court) that tests on vacuum cleaners with dust-filled bags/ cylinders would be sufficiently reliable and reproducible in different laboratories.
Dyson Ltd has a right to appeal to the main Court of Justice of the European Union, within two months. That said, however, it may only do so on a point of law. At present, it is not anticipated that any such appeal would have good prospects of success.
The full text of the judgment can be read here.