European Review of Private Law

Volume 24 (2016)

Volume 24 (2016) / Issue 3/4

Christiaan Timmermans, 'Horizontal Direct/Indirect Effect or Direct/Indirect Horizontal Effect: What’s in a Name?' (2016) 24 European Review of Private Law, Issue 3/4, pp. 673–685


Abstract: In private law doctrine, suggestions have been made to introduce a terminology relating to the phenomenon of horizontal effects of EU law that is different from the terminology used by EU lawyers. That terminology is designed better to accommodate the specificities of private law. By subtly changing the word order, private lawyers aim to cover under the label ‘direct horizontal effect’ only those cases in which EU law can be invoked with the consequence of directly affecting or modifying a private law relationship. Invoking European law to review national law in terms of its compatibility with European law is defined as ‘indirect horizontal effect’. This essay discusses the unfortunate consequences for legal practice of using two different sets of terminology, almost identical in wording, but substantially different in scope. A number of disadvantages of the terminology advocated by private lawyers are addressed, also in the light of the case law of the European Court of Justice. Finally, a suggestion is made to arrive at a uniform terminology attempting to accommodate both private law and EU law sensibilities.


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ISSN: 0928-9801
ID: ERPL2016040