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The General Court has handed down an important judgment in Case T-240/16, Andriy Klyuyev v Council (11 July 2018).

On 5 March 2014, the Council froze the funds and economic resources of persons identified as being responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian State funds. Mr Klyuyev, former head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, was one of these people. The General Court has now annulled the freezing of funds for Mr Klyuyev, for the period March 2017 – March 2018, on the basis that the Council had committed a manifest error of assessment in determining that there was a legitimate basis for listing him.

The Court held that that the Council had “committed a manifest error of assessment in considering that it was not required to take into account the evidence produced by the applicant and the arguments developed by him or to make further enquiries of the Ukrainian authorities, despite the fact that that evidence and those arguments were such as to give rise to legitimate doubts regarding the reliability of the information provided by the PGO” (at §237).

In its judgment, the General Court makes clear that the Council cannot simply rubber-stamp what it is told by third countries, as this would be inconsistent with the principle of good administration, and the obligation to respect fundamental rights under the EU Charter. In particular, the Council is required to undertake a careful and impartial examination of exculpatory evidence adduced by the applicant. The General Court concluded that this was not done in the present case.

Jason Pobjoy appeared on behalf of Mr Klyuyev at the hearing before the General Court. Brian Kennelly QC also acts for Mr Klyuyev.

Brian and Jason have extensive expertise in challenging and advising on EU and international asset-freezing sanctions, and are recognised as leading sanctions lawyers in the EU. They are currently representing more than 25 individuals and entities in over a dozen challenges to asset-freezing regimes before the General Court of the EU and the Court of Justice. The majority of their recent cases have resulted in the de-listing of the sanctioned individuals: see, e.g., the recent judgment in relation to Mr Ivanyuschenko (see here) and Mr Klyuyev’s brother (see here). In addition to sanctions challenges, they also have considerable experience in advising on sanctions compliance issues.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.