Simonsen Vogt Wiig AS
  February 15, 2024 - Oslo, Norway

The First Animal Health Law matter under the new EU Regulation is referred to Luxembourg by the Supreme Court
  by Jan Magne Langseth

The case concerns the interpretation of Article 269 of the AHL, which provides that additional or more stringent measures by Member States may be adopted concerning responsibilities for animal health in certain limited areas. (As provided for Articles 10 to 17 AHL.) The core of the dispute between a company in the aquaculture industry and the state is whether such more stringent measures may be introduced to prohibit the movement of aquatic animals from one aquaculture establishment to another zone or compartment within the same EEA state, in this case, Norway.

The national measures referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 269 “shall respect the rules laid down in this Regulation and shall not … hinder the movement of animals and products between Member States.” Furthermore, such measures shall not be inconsistent with the rules in AHL. The Regulation contains detailed rules and requirements for the movements of aquatic animals and disease prevention measures. Plaintiff contends that these rules and the Commission’s delegated implementing regulations completely harmonize the rules governing the movement and transport of aquatic animals. The Norwegian state contends that it may, without prejudice to the rules in the AHL, freely and at its own discretion prohibit such movements vested in national food law.

This is the first time the European Courts in Luxembourg are invited to rule on the interpretation of the AHL since its enactment and the matter is therefore of principal importance because the EFTA Court has to rule on the national authorities’ competence to deviate from the harmonized rules in the AML.

The plaintiff in the matter, the leading Norwegian Aquaculture company Alsaker Fjordbruk group’s  subsidiary Nordsjø, is represented by lead counsel and SVW’s EU litigation expert Jan Magne Langseth, assisted by Silje Færevåg Stokland from the litigation team, and Arthur Duus who works closely with the aquaculture industry at SVW’s Bergen office.

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