The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Commission can intervene as amicus curiae in the appeal against the ruling by the District Court of Haarlem on the tax deductibility of fines imposed by the European Commission for cartel infringements.9

On 22 May 2006, the District Court of Haarlem concluded that it follows from the text of Regulation 17/6210 that fines imposed by the European Commission for competition law infringements are partly non-punitive in nature and are, for that part, tax deductible.11 The European Commission tried to intervene as amicus curiae in the appeal against this ruling on the basis of Article 15(3) of Regulation 1/200312, leading the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam to refer the question as to whether this intervention is possible to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).13

The ECJ recently answered this question.14 It ruled that Article 15(3) of Regulation 1/2003 enables the Commission to submit written observations to courts of the Member States if the coherent application of Article 81 EC or 82 EC so requires, even if the proceedings concerned do not directly relate to the application of Article 81 or 82 EC.

The ECJ found that, in the circumstances of the action in the main proceedings, it was quite clear that the outcome of the tax deductibility dispute could impair the effectiveness of the penalty imposed by the European Commission. Consequently, the European Commission should be allowed to submit written observations in the case at hand pursuant to Article 15(3) of Regulation 1/2003.