The General Court of the EU has rejected challenges to restrictive measures imposed by the EU against Tarif Akhras, a prominent Syrian business person, since 23 March 2012. Mr Akhras was originally made subject to the EU restrictive measures regime in respect of Syria in September 2011, and was subsequently relisted in successor regimes in 2012 and 2013.

The General Court upheld an application to annul those restrictive measures imposed prior to 23 March 2012 on the grounds that the Council failed to provide adequate and sufficient reasons for the imposition of restrictive measures against him. These restrictive measures were, however, superseded by those introduced in 2012 and 2013, and so their annulment has limited practical effect.

Challenges to restrictive measures imposed after 23 March 2012 were rejected by the General Court on grounds (i) that the Council gave insufficient notice to Mr Akhras of the restrictive measures, (ii) that the Council failed to give sufficiently clear and detailed reasons for the imposition of the relevant restrictive measures, and (iii) that the Council erred in law by applying a presumption that, by virtue of Mr Akhras being a leading businessman in Syria, he was providing economic support to the Syrian regime.

Judgment of the General Court of the European Union in Tarif Akhras v Council of the European Union (T- 579/11)