Gepubliceerd op donderdag 13 november 2014
IEF 14363
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Conclusie AG: afwijzing bij nietigverklaringsprocedure communautair ras

Conclusie AG HvJ EU 13 november 2014, IEF 14363 zaak C-546/12P (Schräder tegen CPVO) - dossier
Kwekersrecht. Bewijs. Volgens rekwirant is het Gerecht EU er onjuist van uitgegaan dat, in een beroepsprocedure voor het CPVO betreffende de afwijzing van een verzoek tot nietigverklaring van een communautair ras, de feiten niet ambtshalve dienen te worden onderzocht. En er zou sprake van inbreuk op de regels inzake bewijslast en bewijsvoering. De Advocaat-Generaal concludeert tot afwijzing van het beroep, geen van de argumenten laat een fout zien: Het gaat meer om de beoordeling van Schräders argumenten dan om beoordeling van het bewijs, neither [point] impinges upon the facts and circumstances of the 1997 technical examination in a way that affects the assessment of that examination.

84. Mr Schräder now seeks to demonstrate that the General Court could not reasonably have concluded that the facts and circumstances were not sufficient to establish that the 1997 technical examination was irredeemably flawed. Although formally he is pleading errors of law, in reality he is questioning the General Court’s assessment of the facts and the probative value it attached to those facts.

85. In the light of the Court’s established case-law, Grounds 3, 4, 5 and 6 must therefore be considered inadmissible.

86. I add that in my view they are in any event unfounded.
87. Distortion of facts and/or evidence exists where without recourse to new evidence the existing assessment of the evidence is manifestly incorrect. (80) The alleged errors identified by Mr Schräder are that the General Court: (i) stated that the author of a note on the case file was the Bundessortenamt’s expert, whereas he believes it to have been an official of the CPVO; and (ii) indicated that the only issue in dispute was whether the characteristic ‘attitude of shoots’ should be determined according to relative or absolute criteria.
88. The first point is a matter of detail concerning the author of a file note, the content of which is not challenged. The second concerns the General Court’s characterisation of Mr Schräder’s argument rather than being a matter of evidence. Neither point shows that the General Court committed a manifest error of assessment: neither impinges upon the facts and circumstances of the 1997 technical examination in a way that affects the assessment of that examination.

89. Furthermore, I recall that the parameters of the General Court’s jurisdiction for review are set by Article 73(2) of the Basic Regulation. It was not therefore required to carry out a complete and detailed factual assessment in order to determine whether or not LEMON SYMPHONY lacked distinctness for the purposes of Article 7(1) of that regulation (in the context of Mr Schräder’s application for annulment under Article 20). Rather, the General Court was entitled, in the light of the scientific and technical complexity of that issue, to limit itself to a review of manifest errors of assessment. (81)

90. The General Court was therefore entitled to reach the conclusion that the evidence on the file was sufficient to permit the Board to rule that the 1997 technical examination was not invalid on the grounds that the material used was defective and that Mr Schräder had failed to demonstrate that LEMON SYMPHONY was not clearly distinguishable from any other plant variety in 1997.

91. Furthermore, it is clear from the relevant paragraphs of the judgment under appeal (82) that in reaching its conclusions the General Court conducted a thorough review of the Board’s decision. In so doing it provided reasons for its findings which are based upon the grounds and the evidence put forward by the parties to the proceedings.