Volume 45 (2008) / Issue 5
Where the answer to a question about the interpretation or validity of Community law is needed to resolve a dispute before a national court of last instance, Article 234 EC requires this court to make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice. In 1982, in the famous CILFIT judgment, the Court of Justice nevertheless acknowledged the so–called acte clair doctrine, so that where certain specific conditions are met, the obligation to refer may be waived. More than 25 years have passed since the CILFIT judgment was rendered and the time therefore seems ripe for reviewing the strict criteria established therein. In this article, it is argued that the acte clair doctrine may better meet the purpose underlying Article 234 in the Community of today if the criteria are adjusted so as not to require a national court of last instance to make a preliminary reference where the correct application of Community law does not leave any reasonable doubt as to the manner in which the question raised is to be resolved.
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