On 12 July 2012, the ECJ handed down a new ruling on gambling advertisements. The judgment in C-176/11 HIT and HIT LARIX clarifies that a country may restrict advertisements for foreign casinos on the ground that the casino’s home state does not provide equivalent protection for gamblers. However, they cannot require identical regulation, and the restriction must be directly related to protecting consumers.
At the same time, however, the judgment raises once more the question of what regulations should be found proportional in gambling cases. The disagreement over proportionality is evident in the differences between the opinion of the Court and that of Advocate General Mazák, and will no doubt lead to further debate regarding the exact scope of Member State freedom in this area.
The ECJ issued a fun judgment today on the mutual recognition of driving licenses in the EU.
The case involves one Mr. Akyüz, a German national who was denied a German driving license because his “strong aggressive tendencies” caused him to fail a required medico-psychological exam (para. 18). Being a savvy gentleman (and perhaps familiar with EU law?), Mr. Akyüz went to the Czech Republic and acquired a Czech licence instead. When he returned to Germany and drove using his new Czech qualification, he was convicted by the German courts for two counts of driving without a license. Mr. Akyüz appealed his convictions, and the German court sent a preliminary reference to the ECJ to ask whether Directives 91/439 and 2006/126 “must be interpreted as precluding legislation of a host Member State which allows that State to refuse to recognise, within its territory, a driving licence issued in another Member State in the case where the holder of that licence … was refused a first driving licence in that State on the ground that he did not satisfy, under that State’s legislation, the physical and mental requirements for the safe driving of a motor vehicle” (para. 35).
The ECJ answered in the affirmative:
41. It is for the issuing Member State to investigate whether the minimum conditions imposed by European Union law, particularly those relating to residence and fitness to drive … have been satisfied and, therefore, whether the issuing of a driving licence is justified … .
42. Once the authorities of one Member State have issued a driving licence … the other Member States are not entitled to investigate whether the conditions for issue laid down by that directive have been met. The possession of a driving licence issued by one Member State has to be regarded as constituting proof that on the day on which that licence was issued, its holder satisfied those conditions … .