Third quarter of 2002
non-suited by the highest French jurisdiction
WISE-Paris, 26 July 2002
The Court of Dispute (Tribunal des conflits) made
a historical decision on 01 July 2002, by non-suiting COGEMA and the
Prefect of la Manche in the case against Greenpeace concerning the illegal
import to France of Australian spent fuel. The highest French jurisdiction
created a precedent by following the arguments of an environmental NGO
in a nuclear-related case.
For the record, on 14 March 2001, the Cherbourg Court turned
down COGEMA's attempt to prevent Greenpeace from protesting against
the delivery of 360 Australian spent fuel assemblies shipped to France
and prohibited the nuclear company from unloading and storing them,
for absence of authorization.
It even considered that Greenpeace had the right to access
a certain number of documents, in the course of the procedure, that
were not yet supplied, and condemned COGEMA to pay the unprecedented
fine of 100,000 French francs (around 15,000 Euros) per document per
day of delay to Greenpeace France.
The Cherbourg Court's decision was canceled by the Caen
Appeal Court, which, although it noticed the absence of authorization
to reprocess the spent fuel, refused to give a ruling on the basis of
Greenpeace submitted a new request on 12 April 2001, to
examine the basis of the question. The Cherbourg Court heard its jurisdiction
in the matter questioned by COGEMA. The company was supported by the
Prefect of la Manche region who had authored a "déclinatoire
de compétence" (denial of jurisdiction), a document submitted
to the Court asking it to rule that such matters are beyond its jurisdiction.
On 25 June 2001, the Cherbourg Court issued a ruling non-suiting
COGEMA and the Prefect. COGEMA was condemned to either produce the "necessary
authorizations to reprocess" Australian fuels or "ship the
fuel assemblies stored in France back to Australia, under threat of
penalty if necessary".
On 6 July 2001, the Prefect submitted the case to the Dispute
Court, asking it to declare the civil jurisdiction non-competent. His
request was rejected in the first Article of the 1 July 2002 Court decision.
- Sensational Court Ruling, COGEMA Prohibited to
Unload Australian Nuclear Fuel in France
- Australian fuel at La Hague: COGEMA under pressure
from the courts,