MOSCOW, May 31 (RAPSI) – Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has presented an opinion proposing the court to confirm the lawfulness of actions the British authorities had undertaken with regard to sanctions against Russian Rosneft oil and gas company.

Yet in February 2015, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales referred a number of questions concerning a Rosneft lawsuit against Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Financial Conduct Authority to the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg. Rosneft challenged the interpretation and implementation of sectoral sanctions the EU had imposed on Russia. In particular, the Russian corporation maintains that UK has too broadly defined the term “financial assistance” by including the processing of payments by banks and other financial institutions and prohibiting the issuing of, or other dealings with, Global Depositary Receipts in respect of shares which were issued before September 12, 2014, and raises the question of correct interpretation of the terms “shale” and “waters deeper than 150 meters” in EU documents.

In its turn, the High Court turned to the EU Court of Justice seeking its guidance with regard to the question if the EU Court has jurisdiction to give a preliminary ruling on the validity of EU legislation concerning sanctions and to the extent that it has jurisdiction, if it is contrary to the principles of legal certainty for Britain to impose criminal penalties for infringements on the sanctions, as well as the validity of interpretation of the EU restrictive measures in UK.

In the opinion presented to the EU Court of Justice on Tuesday, the Advocate General proposes that the court answer the questions as follows: the EU Court of Justice has jurisdiction to give its preliminary ruling on the validity of EU documents concerning restrictive measures and rule that there had been revealed nothing to affect the validity of EU decisions with regard to sanctions as implemented by the British authorities.  

Last summer, the US banned the supply of offshore hydrocarbon production equipment to Russia, including for oil production in the Arctic. The European Union later banned their manufacturers from exporting oil industry technology and equipment to Russia, specifically for deep seabed mining, Arctic production and shale oil projects.

In October 2014, Rosneft lodged a separate application with the ECJ along with four other Russian companies, in which it contested the legality of sanctions under European law.