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European and Competition Law

Conte & Giacomini Avvocati > Practices > European and Competition Law

Conte&Giacomini offers both judicial and extra-judicial assistance and consulting concerning EU Law as well, thanks to a team of Lawyers with specific skills.

For more than 30 years now, indeed, we have developed specific competences and we assist our Clients before the European Court of Justice (through specific references for preliminary ruling) and the Court of First Instance, asking for the European legal principles to be implemented before national Judicial Authorities as well.

Moreover, we assist both Companies and people in front of the European Commission presenting specific complaints of competence of the Commission concerning the breach of EU Law.

In particular, our services primarily regard the following specific subjects: free circulation of goods, people, services and capitals; competition norms, transport policies, environmental policies, consumer protection, direct and indirect taxation, EU funding, agricultural policies; animal welfare and rights.

Conte&Giacomini deals with Competition law, both at a National and at a EU level. Our professionals assist the Companies with the different problems and questions tied to Anti-trust Law and present complaints on behalf of our Clients in front both the AGMC and the European Commission.

Moreover, C&G Lawyers handle the subject of State Aids, and of Consumer Protection; the latter by submitting “complaints” when unfair practices and misleading advertising persist.

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Free movement of goods, persons, services and capitals

The “four fundamental freedoms” represent one of the chief sectors in which the firm is specialized.

Conte & Giacomini Law firm has in fact defended numerous cases, both before national judges and before European Community judges, on the subject of incompatibility of national regulations and/or practices with Community law as they are in contrast with provisions of the Treaty or with provisions of derived law on the subject of the free movements of goods, persons, services and capital and/or access their respective markets. Amongst these important cases are:
sentence of 31.01.1984, combined cases C-286/82 and 26/83, Luisi – Carbone, in Rep. 1984, page 377, on the subject of free supply of services and deregulation of transfrontier payments;- sentence of 24.06.1986, in case C-157/85, Brugnoni/Ruffinengo, in Rep. 1986, page 2013, on the subject of free circulation of capital and foreign equity operations;
sentence of 17.06.1997, in case C-70/95, Sodemare S.A./Regione Lombardia, in Rep. 1997, page I-3395, on the subject of free supply of services and management of nursing homes;
sentence of 18.06.1998, case C-266/96. Corsica Ferries France / Gruppo Antichi Ormeggiatori, in Rep. 1998, page 3949, on the subject of free supply of maritime transport services and exclusive ship landing services in the ports;
sentence of 19.02.2002, in case C-295/00, Commissione/Rep. Italiana, in Rep. 2002, page I-1737, on the subject of free supply of maritime transport services and non-payment of boarding and landing taxes for domestic passengers;
sentence of 20.06.2002, in combined cases C-388/00 e 429/00, Radiosistemi/Pref. Ge, in Rep. 2002, page I-5845, on the subject of free movement of goods and national certification marking for radio equipment;
sentence of 13.11.2003 in the case C-153/02, Valentina Neri c. European School of Economics, on the subject of establishment, free supply of services and recognition of diplomas.

Over the last two years, the firm has also been engaged in proceedings on charges of infringement of Community Maritime law before the European Commission relevant to:
failure of the acknowledgement of the Italian State of the Directive 1999/5/CE;
hindrance to free supply of teaching services, to right of establishment, as well as failure to recognize educational qualifications by the Italian State ;
hindrance to free supply of teaching services, to right of establishment, as well as failure to recognize educational qualifications by Italy;
hindrance to free supply of services and free circulation of goods in the sphere of maritime transport by Spain;
imposition of a system declared by the Court of Justice as being incompatible with the free supply of services in the sphere of maritime transport by Italy.

The Conte & Giacomini Law firm, as an accredited Law firm who works for the European Juridical Commission, has recently represented the Commission in the case C-531/06 (Commissione/Italia), resolved with the judgment of the Court of Justice 19 May 2009. The case concerned the title to work of the Italian pharmacies being reserved exclusively to pharmacists.

Competition rules and regulation

The firm’s expertise in competition rules is revealed both in the application of these rules to private enterprises (being active parties in cases of cartels and restrictive practices and/or abuse of dominant position) and in relation to issues where the State has been found to act in an anti-competitive manner (in relation to payment of State subsidies or regarding monopolies).

The following are to be remembered when considering cases defended by the firm before the Community judge and/or infringement proceedings lodged with the European Commission and/or Italian Antitrust Community judge and/or infringement proceedings lodged with the European Commission and/or of interpretation and/or application of competition rules against private enterprises and/or the State:
sentence of 10/12/1991, in case C-179/90, Porto di Genova, in Rep. 1991, page I-5889, on the subject of port enterprises and legal monopolies;
sentence of 14.12.1994, in case C-387/93, Banchero / P.M., in Rep. 1995, page I-4663, on the subject of national tobacco monopoly and retail sales of processed tobacco;
sentence of 1.12.1998, in case C-200/97, Ecotrade, in Rep. 1998, page I-7907, on the subject of State subsidies to enterprises and Italian regulations governing extraordinary administration of large companies in crisis;
Commission’s decision of 21.06.2001 on State subsidies paid by Italy to Tirrenia S.p.A. di Navigazione, in GUCE L 318, of 4.12.2001, page 9, on the subject of State subsidies to enterprises and obligations public service in maritime cabotage transport obligations;
Commission’s decision of 30.10.2002 on State subsidies paid by Italy to Société Nationale Corsica Marittima, in GUCE L 50, of 21.02.2002, page 66, on the subject of State subsidies to enterprises and public service obligations in maritime cabotage transport;
appeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance for Tourship Italia S.p.A. and Grandi Traghetti S.p.A. di Navigazione against Commission’s decision in case T-246/99, Tirrenia di Navigazione S.p.A. v. EU Commission and others;
appeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance against Commission’s decision in case T-52/00, Coeclerici Logistics S.p.A. v. EU Commission;
appeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance against Commission’s decision in case T-59/00, Compagnia Portuale Pietro Chiesa v. EU Commission;
sentence of 01.10.1998, case C-38/97; Autotrasporti Librandi, in Rep. 1998, page I-5955, on the subject of compulsory tariffs for road haulage and free competition;
sentence of 29/11/2001, case C-221/99, Conte /Rossi, in Rep.(Racc.) ? 2001, page I-9359, on the subject of fees for architects and free competition. *** procedure of violation by the European Commission towards the International Association of Classification Societies Limited (IACS) for violationof the compertion rules and abuse of dominate position. (Art. 81 e seg. Trattato).

Mr .Giacomini defended RINA (Registro Italiano Navale) ,being part of a prestigious college of international lawyers in a case against the members of IACS , who are the 10 leaders in the classification of world shipping. The case was won with the decision of the European Commission which approved the Commitments proposed by IACS on 28 September 2009. The summary of the Decision was published in the GU of the UE del 6/1/2010 (Case COMP/39.416- Ship classification)

Transport policy

The subject of transport law and matters pertaining to the port represent the tradition of the Conte & Giacomini Law Firm. The firm acted as defense counsel in the case as per sentence of 10.12.1991, C-179/90, “Port of Genoa”, whereby the European Communities Court of Justice declared the incompatibility of legal monopoly of port enterprises with Community law, from which the Reform of port matters in Italy rightly took its cue.

The boarding and landing tax for passengers imposed in the ports of Genoa, Naples and Trieste on international traffic was abolished as a result of proceedings for infringement, initiated from charges made by the firm and ended with the sentence of 19/2/2002, in case C-1295/00, Commissione/Rep. Italiana.

In the case defended by the Firm and thereafter concluded with the sentence of 17.05.1994, case C-18/93, Corsica Ferries / Corpo Piloti, the European Communities Court of Justice recognized the incompatibility of the imposition of a compulsory pilotage against the rules on free supply of international transport services.

Matters regularly dealt with by the firm relate to:
Maritime cabotage transport (de-regulation and access to the market, tax concessions, public service obligations);
Short sea shipping (regulations and problems related to access to market);
port facilities (access to market, self-production, exclusive rights);
Infrastructures (access to market, essential facilities, connected markets);
Road haulage (price-bracket tariff rates, tax benefits, combined transport).

In this context, the firm was engaged in the following cases before the Community Judge and/or in the following charges lodged at the European Commission and/or Italian Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato):
the Commission’s decision of 21.06.2001 relevant to State subsidies paid by Italy to Tirrenia S.p.A. di Navigazione, in GUCE L 318, of 4.12.2001, page 9, on the subject of State subsidies to enterprises and public service obligations in maritime cabotage transport;
the Commission’s decision of 30.10.2002 relevant to State subsidies paid by Italy to Société Nationale Corsica Marittima, in GUCE L 50, of 21.02.2002, page 66, on the subject of State subsidies to enterprises and public service obligations in maritime cabotage transport;
the appeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance for Tourship Italia S.p.A. and Grandi Traghetti S.p.A. di Navigazione against decision of the Commission in case T-246/99, Tirrenia di Navigazione S.p.A. v. EU; Commission and others;
the appeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance against decision of the Commission in case T-52/00, Coeclerici Logistics S.p.A. v. EU Commission;
the ppeal for cancellation before the European Union Court of first instance against decision of the Commission in case T-59/00, Compagnia Portuale Pietro Chiesa v. EU Commission;
charges lodged with the EU Commission, for subsidies in favor of Funiviaria Alto Tirreno S.p.A.
complaints lodged with the EU Commission and with the Italian Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) against the Venice Port Authorities, for denying the right to supply port operations.
measures taken by the of 14/11/2002 n. 11404 in Italian Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) (bullettin n. 46/2002) and of 24/12/2002, AS 248 (in bulletin n. 50/2002) relevant to restrictions in market competition for ships’ repairs in the port of Naples.

Environmental protection policy

Conte & Giacomini Law firm has long been engaged with environment cases, particularly for advice on the subject of treatment and disposal of refuse and noxious substances. Specific experience has been gained within ports for activities at terminals and on board ships.

In this sense we would underline the defense of an important issue regarding the discharge of noxious chemical substances into the sea before the European Communities Court of Justice (sentence of 14.07.1994, in lawsuit C-379/92, Peralta/Min. Marina Mercantile, in Rep. (racc.) 1994, page I-15) on the subject of free supply of maritime transport services and national regulations on discharge of noxious substances into the sea.

Moreover the firm has been recently engaged in proceedings before the European Commission relevant to assessment of compatibility of State subsidies given for the demolition of single-hull tankers.

Particular attention is given to the work of documentation and information for clients with regards to the provisions of law and regulations in force on these subjects.

Protection of consumer's rights

The Firm is engaged in protecting the consumer particularly in reference to deceptive advertising, introduction of products that are forged, faulty or without the required certification of conformity or quality onto the market. Within this area some of the matters dealt with by the firm should be mentioned: such as, deceptive messages for foodstuffs, transport services and educational institutions within the scope of proceedings before the European Commission and/or the Italian Antitrust Authority.

Conte & Giacomini Law Firm co-operates and gives assistance to some of the most important Italian Consumer Associations.

Direct and Indirect Fiscal Law

The activity of the Conte & Giacomini Law Firm in the fiscal sector is particularly demonstrated in some important cases before the Court of Justice successfully defended by the Firm, with considerable repercussions at a national legal system level.

These particularly concern:
sentence of 25.02.1988, in law suit C-299/86, Drexl, in Rep. 1988, page 1213, on the subject of VAT on imports, double tax imposition and taxable basis;
sentence of 20.04.1993, in combined law suits C-71/91 e 178/91, Ponente Carni/Amm. Finanze, in Rep. 1993, page I-1915, on the subject of Company Register and annual registration tax for deeds of company articles of association;
sentence of 20.10.1993, in law suit C-10/92, Balocchi/Amm. Finanze, in Rep. 1993, page I-5105, on the subject of VAT and tax paid in advance on operations still pending;
complaint made against the Italian Republic to the European Commission about the Rules known as the Scudo Fiscale 2009″. The complaint was presented in November 2009 by the prestigious British foundation (European Policy Forum) and a group of Italian Members of the European Parliament.

Community financing

Conte & Giacomini Law Firm offers assistance to its clients both under a legal aspect and under necessity to co-ordinate the matters , internal and/or external with the interested company, involved in procedures required to obtain eventual financing.

In this sense, the Firm has been chiefly occupied with financial support for projects to be realized in the maritime merchandise transport sector, combined transport sector and the transport infrastructure sector.

Conte & Giacomini has set up a working group with the purpose of offering rapid and detailed information to its clients on the various forms of help and support at disposal through Community Institutions.

The firm involves expert technical consultants who actively collaborate with the staff in Genoa and that in Brussels of Eurete S.c.a.r.l. – European Development Agency.

Agricultural Policy

The firm is engaged in matters of agricultural policy both in the sphere of Community subsidies for agriculture and in the sphere of national and Community regulations dictated by the subject of controls and product performance.

Some of the firm’s members assist large agricultural co-operative societies and business associations in the sector and offer legal advice and assistance on the various issues linked with production, distribution and sales of products.

To be noted, the defense in a lawsuit pending before the European Union Court of Justice on the subject of the system for pricing sugar.