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THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE IN LUXEMBOURG ONCE AGAIN RULES IN FAVOR OF A SPANISH FIRM IN DEFENSE OF AN IRANIAN COMPANY SANCTIONED BY THE EU

  • This is the second time the ECJ has ruled favorably on a case brought by Lupicinio Abogados.

Madrid.- On the 12th of November the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg ruled in favor of the company North Drilling Co (NDC) and against the Council of the European Union.  This company, established in Iran and specialized in the drilling and exploration of on and off-shore oil and gas, was considered by the EU Council as a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).  As a result NDC had been included in a list of companies sanctioned by the European Union.

During the proceedings it was shown that at the time the contested measure was adopted NDC was no longer a subsidiary of NIOC, and as a consequence the EU Council was mistaken in including it on the blacklist.  This fact was recognized by the Court in its ruling.  Additionally the Court ordered the EU Council pay costs.

NDC’s legal defense was directed by the partner in charge of international operations, José María Viñals Camallonga, along with Professor José Luis Iriarte Ángel, partner León Barriola and associates Sergio Balañá, Paul Basset and Eduardo Delage.

This is the second time in the last few weeks that Lupicinio’s international operations team has obtained a favorable ruling for its clients in proceedings before the European Court of Justice in the area of restrictive sanctions against Iran.  Just last September 6th the same team managed to get the Court to remove the company Iranian Offshore Engineering & Construction (IOEC) from the same blacklist.

Proceedings before the General Court of the European Union are often highly complex and require large legal teams, and as such more often than not it is the big British, German and French law firms which take on these matters.  Now, for the second time, a Spanish firm has put down its marker among the small group of legal professionals who work on these issues at the highest European levels.

In the words of Viñals, thanks to the new ruling NDC will, unless the Council decides to appeal, be removed from the list of blacklisted companies within the next two months. Its inclusion had resulted in, among other things, an embargo being placed on its property and assets, as well as a prohibition on any EU citizen or company from maintaining commercial relationships with it, prohibitions which clearly caused grave damage to the company.

In their defense of NDC, Lupicinio’s lawyers argued that the company Pishro Iran Financial and Investment Company (PIFIC) had bought half plus one of NDC’s shares on the 17th of May, 2011, and that the remaining shares had already been purchased by various other entities during a planned process of privatization.

In Viñals’ opinion “this judgment represents a guarantee of the preservation of the rights of Iranian companies before the European Courts, and it has been clearly shown that NDC’s inclusion on the EU blacklist was disproportionate, unjustified and resulted in great harm to the company.  However, it is also important to point out that the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has ruled against legal certainty for the interests and foreign policy of the European Council”.

Lupicinio Rodríguez, Managing Partner of the firm stated that “this new victory is reward for and a recognition of our expertise and knowledge in the area of international sanctions and bans or restrictions on investment in sanctioned countries.”

Lupicinio is a Spanish law firm with more than 30 years of experience and offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valladolid and Dubai that has successfully represented clients in cases of this nature and that has extensive experience in matters of international sanctions and the Middle East and Caspian Sea regions, where it has helped numerous Spanish companies to establish.  This is the second time that a Spanish law firm has represented an Iranian company in sanctions proceedings before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Jesús Martínez de Rioja Vázquez
Tel.: +34 91 702 44 98 / +34 629 843 161
[email protected]

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