Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the decision made by Judge Ní Raifeartaigh today. Today in the High Court, Judge Úna Ní Raifeartaigh decided to refer to the ECJ the question of whether the court of a member state has the discretion in judicial review cases to refuse relief where the rights in question come from EU law.
The case of Mac Fhlannchadha v. the Minister for Agriculture (heard in the Irish language) relates to the use of EU languages on the labelling of veterinary medicine. Judge Ní Raifeartaigh has held that the State breached an EU Directive which required the labelling to be at least in both Irish and English, because Irish law allows for labelling in English only. Mr Mac Fhlannchadha is represented by Séamas Ó Tuathail AS and Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh BL instructed by solicitors Ó Cearbhaill & Co, Galway.
This question arises from a clash of legal cultures. In Common Law countries, such as Ireland and England, judges have broad discretionary powers in deciding cases but in the mainland European Civil Law tradition, judges do not.
The question to be decided by the European Court arises because a new EU Regulation, which allows for greater autonomy for member states in choosing the languages used in labelling will come into force in 2022, making Irish language labelling optional for these products. The question facing the High Court and the ECJ is what to do in the meantime.