Category Archives: MiFID

Obligation de confidentialité des autorités de surveillance prudentielle : droits de la défense et droit au recours effectif remparts contre l’arbitraire

Jugement

C-358/16

13.09.2018

Parties

Juridiction

Formation

Juge Rapporteur

Avocat Général

Sujet

UBS Europe SE, anciennement UBS (Luxembourg) SA, Alain Hondequin e. a.

CJUE

5e Ch.

R. Silva de Lapuerta

J. Kokott

MiFID

– Secret professionnel

 

Mots-clés

Renvoi préjudiciel – Directive 2004/39/CE – Article 54, paragraphes 1 et 3 – Portée de l’obligation de secret professionnel des autorités nationales de surveillance financière – Décision constatant la perte de l’honorabilité professionnelle – Cas relevant du droit pénal – Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union Européenne – Article 47 et 48 – Droits de la défense – Accès au dossier

Résumé

Dans cet arrêt rendu sur questions préjudicielles posées par la Cour administrative luxembourgeoise, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (la « Cour ») interprète la notion de « cas relevant du droit pénal », une hypothèse dans laquelle les autorités nationales de surveillance financière sont libérées de leur obligation au secret professionnel, prévue par l’article 54 de la Directive 2004/39/CE sur les  marchés d’instruments financiers, dite MiFID.  La Cour se prononce également sur une  autre dérogation potentielle à cette obligation au  secret professionnel, fondée sur le droit à un recours juridictionnel effectif et le respect des droits de la défense, prévus respectivement aux articles 47 et 48 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne.

La Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (la « CSSF »), qui est l’autorité luxembourgeoise compétente en matière de surveillance financière, a considéré que M. DV manquait d’honorabilité, à la suite de sa participation dans la constitution et la gestion de la société Luxalpha (impliquée dans le scandale Madoff). Elle l’a dès lors contraint de démissionner de tous ses mandats d’administrateurs  de sociétés du secteur financier soumis à l’agrément de la CSSF.

M.DV a introduit un recours contre cette décision. Il a également demandé à la CSSF d’obtenir à l’accès à certains documents en sa possession, qui, selon M.DV sont à décharge et de nature à étayer son recours contre la décision litigieuse. La CSSF lui ayant opposé son obligation au secret professionnel prévue à l’article 54 de MiFID, M.DV a introduit un recours contre cette décision. Tant le Tribunal administratif luxembourgeois que la Cour administrative luxembourgeoise lui ont donné gain de cause. Notamment, selon la Cour administrative, un tel refus se rapporte à une sanction administrative qui relève de la matière pénale au sens de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH).  Toutefois, à la suite d’une tierce opposition d’UBS., qui, estime que la décision de la Cour violait l’article 54 de MiFID, la Cour administrative luxembourgeoise a décidé de surseoir à statuer et de poser les deux questions préjudicielles évoquées ci-dessus à la Cour.

Concernant la première question préjudicielle, en l’absence de définition dans la directive des termes « des cas relevant du droit pénal », la CJUE se réfère au contexte et aux objectifs de la directive.

Elle explique à cet égard que, dans le contexte d’activités transfrontalières croissantes, MiFID a mis en place un mécanisme d’échanges d’informations entre autorités compétentes des Etats membres. Ainsi que souligné dans l’arrêt récent Baumeister (19 juin 20018, C-15/16) un tel mécanisme requiert, pour son bon fonctionnement, la garantie de la confidentialité.

Dès lors, le secret professionnel des autorités de surveillance a pour but, selon la Cour, de protéger, d’une part, les intérêts des entreprises concernées et, d’autre part, « l’intérêt général lié au fonctionnement normal des marchés d’instruments financier de l’Union » (§37). Consécutivement, la Cour considère que le secret professionnel est un principe général qui ne souffre que des exceptions exhaustivement énoncées à l’article 54. Comme on le verra, elle sera toutefois amenée à tempérer cette affirmation dans la réponse à la seconde question.

En outre, constituant une exception au principe de la confidentialité, la réserve des « cas relevant du droit pénal » doit être interprétée strictement. Selon la Cour, cette dérogation au principe de la confidentialité a pour but de permettre aux autorités de surveillance de transmettre toutes les informations nécessaires aux fins de poursuites pénales et de sanctions pénales, conformément au droit pénal national.

Enfin, la Cour considère que la constatation qu’une personne ne remplit plus le critère d’honorabilité requis et les conséquences qui en découlent font partie de la procédure de retrait d’agrément. Il ne s’agit ni d’une sanction administrative au sens de l’article 51 de MiFID ni d’un cas relevant du droit pénal au sens de l’article 54 de MiFID.

Concernant la seconde question préjudicielle, la Cour considère qu’il y a lieu de déterminer dans quelle mesure l’obligation de secret professionnel des autorités nationales de surveillance peut être atténuée par les exigences du droit à un recours effectif, à un procès équitable et par le respect des droits de la défense en vertu des articles 47 et 48 de la Charte de l’Union européen des droits fondamentaux lu en combinaison avec les article 6 et 13 de la CEDH.

A titre liminaire, la Cour rappelle que les articles 47 et 48 ont la même portée et offre la même protection que celle prévue par les articles 6 et 13 CEDH et qu’il convient dès lors d’appliquer les articles 47 et 48. Par ailleurs, la Cour rappelle le principe selon lequel, la Charte est pleinement applicable dans toutes les matières régies par le droit de l’Union européenne comme celle au principal qui porte sur l’application de la Directive MiFID.

Tout d’abord, la Cour rappelle le principe d’interprétation conforme selon lequel un acte de l’Union doit être interprété d’une manière qui ne remet pas en cause sa validité et sa conformité avec les droits fondamentaux (Arrêt du 15 février 2016, N., C-601/15 PPU, EU:C:2016;84, point 48).

Abordant l’article 47 de la Charte, relatif au droit à un recours effectif, la Cour rappelle qu’il a pour but de protéger le justiciable contre « des interventions de la puissance publique dans la sphère privée qui seraient arbitraires ou disproportionnées » et que » cette protection peut être invoquée par un administré contre un acte lui faisant grief » (§56). La Cour explique  également que le droit à un procès équitable implique l’obligation de respecter les droits de la défense qui impliquent à leur tour l’accès au dossier afin de garantir un exercice effectif des droits de la défense.

Cependant, la Cour rappelle que les droits fondamentaux ne sont pas absolus et peuvent être tempérés en vue de concilier des objectifs d’intérêt général, tel que le bon fonctionnement des marchés, sans pour autant pouvoir vider ces droits de leur substance.

Enfin, la Cour, après avoir rappelé que le droit d’accès au dossier implique l’accès à l’ensemble des éléments du dossier, qu’il n’appartient pas à l’autorité de déterminer les documents utiles à la défense, mais qu’elle peut exclure du dossier des éléments sans pertinence- ce qui est un peu chèvre-choutiste – affirme que le droit d’accès au dossier doit être mis en œuvre de façon à le concilier avec la protection des informations confidentielles (en l’occurrence des informations (i) non publiques ou (ii) dont la divulgation porteraient atteinte à la personne concernée ou au bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers).

Pour ce faire, la Cour affirme qu’il revient au juge national de déterminer si les informations demandées ont un lien objectif avec les griefs retenus et de trouver un équilibre entre, d’une part, la nécessité de garantir les droits de la défense et de donner consécutivement accès au dossier et, d’autre part, la protection de l’intérêt général lié au bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers.

A retenir

Si la Cour considère que la Cour administrative luxembourgeoise a manqué de justesse juridique en retenant une conception trop large de la notion de cas relevant du droit pénal, elle estime toutefois que la décision de la Cour administrative luxembourgeoise est correcte d’un point de vue de la justice substantielle.

En effet elle admet que les droits fondamentaux peuvent justifier une dérogation au principe de confidentialité si l’intérêt de l’administré doit dans le cas d’espèce, primer sur l’intérêt général lié au bon fonctionnement de la coopération entre les autorités de supervisions, dans des litiges ne relevant pas du droit pénal au sens strict du terme.

La Cour place donc le juge national dans le rôle d’arbitre entre d’un côté les droits fondamentaux qui protège l’administré contre l’arbitraire de la puissance publique et l’intérêt général en l’espèce celui lié au bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers.

Le juge national devra, conformément à cet arrêt lu en combinaison avec l’arrêt C-15/16 Baumeister, récemment présenté dans le blog, suivre le schéma de raisonnement suivant :

  1. Est-ce que l’information est confidentielle (est-elle non publique, est-ce que sa divulgation va porter atteinte à la personne concernée ou au bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers) ?
  2. Si oui, est-ce qu’il existe un lien objectif entre l’information demandée et la décision faisant grief ?
  3. Si oui, est-ce que, en l’espèce, la balance des intérêts en jeu penche en faveur du secret professionnel ou des droits de la défense ?

A cet égard, on peut regretter que la Cour n’ait pas donné plus d’indication au juge national sur le moyen d’opérer cette mise en balance. On observe toutefois la même prudence et le même flou de la CJUE en ce qui concerne l’accès des victimes de violations du droit de la concurrence au dossier devant l’autorité de la concurrence, dans la recherche d’un équilibre entre le private et le public enforcement.  Il revient dès lors à la juridiction nationale de se faire sa propre opinion et de prendre en considération les facteurs qui lui semble les plus opportuns, comme la gravité de la sanction, les faits, la mesure dans laquelle la bonne coopération entre les autorités de contrôle pourrait être mise à mal par la communication d’un document,  etc…

Il appartiendra donc à la Cour administrative de prolonger l’œuvre prétorienne de la CJUE dans la pesée des intérêts en cause, en prenant en compte toutes les circonstances de l’espèce, voire en affinant les lignes directrices de la CJUE. Le dialogue entre le juge national et la CJUE prend donc la forme d’une valse à trois temps, en attendant les prochains renvois préjudiciels ou une révision de l’article 54 de MiFID.

Bien que ce raisonnement doive être appliqué par les juges, les autorités nationales de surveillance devront aussi le garder à l’esprit et faire leur propre analyse et motiver leurs décisions en tenant compte de ce schéma sous peine de voir leurs décisions annulées par les juridictions de contrôle.

Enfin, il important de souligner la réaffirmation de l’applicabilité de la Charte à des matières européanisées, telles que la quasi-totalité du droit bancaire et financier, même lorsque le droit européen est mis en œuvre par le droit national et à l’échelon national. En particulier, l’article 47 de la Charte s’applique à tout droit découlant du droit de l’Union. Par contre, l’article 48 de la Charte a un champ d’application plus limité étant donné qu’il s’applique aux matières relavant du champ pénal au sens de la CEDH.

 

Confidentiality duty of national supervisory authorities: rights of defence and right to a fair trial as safeguards against arbitrary conduct

Judgment

C-358/16

13.09.2018

Parties

Jurisdiction

Formation

Judge Rapporteur

Advocate General

Subject-matter

UBS Europe SE, formerly know as UBS (Luxembourg) SA, Alain Hondequin e. a.

CJEU

5th Ch.

R. Silva de Lapuerta

J. Kokott

MiFID

– Profesionnal secrecy

 

Key-words

Reference for a preliminary ruling — Directive 2004/39/EC — Article 54(1) and (3) — Scope of the obligation of professional secrecy on national financial supervisory authorities — Finding of the absence of good repute — Cases covered by criminal law — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Articles 47 and 48 — Rights of the defence — Access to the file

Summary

In this judgment on preliminary questions referred by the Luxembourg Administrative Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “Court”) interpreted the concept of “criminal law cases”, in which national financial supervisory authorities are released from their obligation of professional secrecy, provided for by Article 54 of Directive 2004/39/EC on markets concerning financial instruments (“MiFID”). The Court also ruled on another potential derogation from this obligation of professional secrecy, based on the right to an effective judicial remedy and respect for the rights of defence, provided for by Articles 47 and 48 respectively of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (the “CSSF”), which is the Luxembourg authority competent for supervision of the financial sector, considered that Mr DV lacked good repute, following his participation in the formation and management of Luxalpha (involved in the Madoff scandal). It therefore forced him to resign from all his mandates as director of companies in the financial sector subject to the approval of the CSSF.

Mr DV requested that the CSSF withdraw this decision. He also asked the CSSF to grant him access to certain documents in its possession, which, according to Mr DV, were exculpatory and likely to support his appeal against the contested decision. As the CSSF raised its obligation of professional secrecy provided for by Article 54 of MiFID, Mr DV lodged an appeal against that decision before the Luxembourg courts. Both the Luxembourg Administrative Court and the Luxembourg Administrative Court of Appeal have ruled in his favour. In particular, according to the Administrative Court of Appeal, such a refusal relates to an administrative sanction which falls within the criminal field within the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, following a third party opposition from UBS, which considers that the Court’s decision violated Article 54 of MiFID, the Luxembourg Administrative Court of Appeal decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the two preliminary questions mentioned above to the Court.

With regard to the first question referred for preliminary ruling, in the absence of a definition in MiFID of the terms “criminal law cases”, the ECJ referred to the context and objectives of the Directive.

In this respect, it explained that, in the context of increasing cross-border activities, MiFID has set up a mechanism for the exchange of information between the competent authorities of the Member States. As underlined in the recent Baumeister judgment (19 June 2018, C-15/16), such a mechanism requires, for its proper functioning, the guarantee of confidentiality.

Consequently, the purpose of the professional secrecy obligation incumbent upon supervisory authorities is, according to the Court, to protect, on the one hand, the interests of the undertakings concerned and, on the other hand, “the general interest linked to the normal functioning of the Union’s markets in financial instruments” (§38). Consequently, the Court considered that professional secrecy is a general principle which is subject only to the exhaustive exceptions set out in Article 54; as will be explained below, however, it tempered this statement in the answer to the second question.

In addition, as an exception to the principle of confidentiality, the reservation of “criminal law cases” must be strictly interpreted. According to the Court, the purpose of this derogation from the principle of confidentiality is to enable the supervisory authorities to transmit all the information necessary for the purposes of criminal proceedings and criminal sanctions, in accordance with national criminal law.

Furthermore, as an exception to the principle of confidentiality, the reservation of “criminal law cases” must be strictly interpreted. According to the Court, the purpose of this derogation from the principle of confidentiality is to enable the supervisory authorities to transmit all the information necessary for the purposes of criminal proceedings and criminal sanctions, in accordance with national criminal law.

Thus, the derogation from professional secrecy provided for by Article 54 does not apply in the present case, contrary to what had been decided by the national courts, and must be limited to cases involving the transmission of information in the context of criminal proceedings or sanctions, in accordance with national criminal law.

Regarding the second question referred for preliminary ruling, the Court considered that it is necessary to determine to what extent the obligation of professional secrecy of national supervisory authorities can be mitigated by the requirements stemming from the rights to an effective remedy, a fair trial and of defence under Articles 47 and 48 of the Charter of the European Union of Fundamental Rights in conjunction with Articles 6 and 13 of the ECHR.

As a preliminary remark, the Court recalled that Articles 47 and 48 have the same scope and offer the same protection as the one provided for by Articles 6 and 13 ECHR and that Articles 47 and 48 should therefore be applied. In addition, the Court recalled that the Charter is fully applicable in all matters governed by European Union law, such as the one in the main proceedings, regarding the application of MiFID.

The Court then recalled the principle of consistent interpretation according to which a Union act must be interpreted in a manner which does not call into question its validity and conformity with fundamental rights (judgments of 15 February 2016, N., C-601/15 PPU, EU:C/2016;84, paragraph 48).

Referring to Article 47 of the Charter, which concerns the right to an effective remedy, the Court recalled that its purpose is to protect individuals from “arbitrary or disproportionate interventions by public authorities in the private sphere” and that “this protection may be invoked by a citizen against an act adversely affecting him” (§56). The Court also explained that the right to a fair trial implies the obligation to respect the rights of defence, which in turn implies access to the file in order to guarantee an effective exercise of those rights.

However, the Court pointed out that fundamental rights are not absolute and can be tempered in order to reconcile objectives of general interest, such as the proper functioning of markets, without depriving these rights of their substance.

Finally, the Court stated that the right of access to the file must be implemented in such a way as to reconcile it with the protection of confidential information (in this case, (i) non-public information or (ii) information whose disclosure would harm the person concerned or the proper functioning of the financial markets). It made this statement after having pointed out that the right of access to the file implies access to all the information in the file and that it is not for the authority to determine the documents relevant to the defence despite also saying that it may exclude irrelevant elements from the file (this is rather sitting on the fence).

To that end, the Court stated that it is for the national court to determine whether the information requested has an objective link with the objections raised and to strike a balance between on the one hand the need to guarantee the rights of the defence and subsequently to grant access to file and on the other hand the protection of the general interest linked to the proper functioning of financial markets.

Noteworthy

While the Court considered that the Luxembourg Administrative Court has failed to achieve legal correctness by adopting an overly broad concept of criminal law case, it nevertheless considered that the decision of the Luxembourg Administrative Court is correct from a substantive justice point of view.

Indeed, the Court accepted that fundamental rights may justify a derogation from the confidentiality obligation if the interest of the citizen concerned must prevail over the general interest linked to the proper functioning of cooperation between supervisory authorities, in litigation which does not fall within the scope of criminal law, stricto sensu.

The Court therefore places the national judge in the role of arbitrator between, on the one hand, the fundamental rights which protect the citizen against the arbitrariness of public power and, on the other, the general interest in this case that linked to the proper functioning of financial markets.

The national courts, in accordance with the principles established in this judgment and those established in the Baumeister judgement (19 June 2018,C-15/16), recently commented on this blog, must follow the following reasoning:

  1. Is the information confidential (is it a non-public; will its disclosure harm the person concerned or the proper functioning of financial markets)?
  2. If so, is there an objective link between the information requested and the harmful decision involved?
  3. If so, does the balance of interests in the individual case lean towards professional secrecy or the rights of the defence?

In this respect, it is regrettable that the Court did not give further guidance to the national court on how to carry out this balancing act. However, the same caution and blurring can be observed by the Court with the regard to the access of victims of competition law infringements to a competition authority’s time for the purposes of damages actions (a search for a balance between private and public enforcement). It is therefore for the national court to make its own opinion and to take into consideration the factors which it considers most appropriate such as the seriousness of the sanction, facts, extent to which good cooperation between the supervisory authorities could be impaired by the communication of a document etc.

It will therefore be for the Luxembourg Administrative Court of Appeal to extend the Praetorian work of the Court in weighing up the interests at stake, taking into account all the circumstances of the case and even refining the Court’s guidelines. The dialogue between the national judge and the Court therefore takes the form of a three-beat waltz pending the next preliminary ruling or a revision of Article 54 MiFID.

Although this reasoning must be applied by national judges, national supervisory authorities must also bear it in mind when making their own analysis and justify their decisions taking into account this objective. Otherwise their decisions will be overruled by the courts upon judicial review.

Finally, it is important underline the reaffirmation of the applicability of the Charter to EU-related law, such as almost all banking and financial law even when EU law has been implemented by national law and at national level. In particular, Article 47 Charter applies to all rights arising from the EU law. In contrast, Article 48 Charter applies only to the fields which fall under criminal law within the meaning of the ECHR.

 

Transmission of orders for financial instruments does not necessarily come within the scope of MiFID

Judgment
C-678/15
14.06.2017
PartiesJurisdictionFormationJudge RapporteurAdvocate GeneralSubject-matter
Request for a preliminary ruling Mohammed Zadeh Khorassani
v. Kathrin Pflanz
Court of Justice4th ChamberC. VajdaM. Campos Sánchez-BordonaMarkets in financial instruments
KeywordsReferences for a preliminary ruling — Directive 2004/39/EC — Markets in financial instruments — Article 4(1)(2) — Definition of ‘investment services’ — point 1 of Section A of Annex I — Reception and transmission of orders in relation to one or more financial instruments — Potential inclusion of brokering with a view to concluding a portfolio management contract
Significant pointsThis case concerned the interpretation of Article 4(1)(2) of Directive 2004/39/EC on markets in financial instruments (MiFID) regarding the notion of ‘investment services”. It related to a brokering performed by Ms Pflanz of an asset management agreement concluded between Mr Khorassani and a third party. Ms Pflanz did not hold any authorisation for providing financial services in accordance with the German law on the financial services and therefore the question arose as to whether she did or not provide Mr Khorassani with investment brokering services by encouraging him to sign an asset management agreement.

The German Federal Court of Justice referred a preliminary question to the CJEU asking whether Article 4(1)(2) of Directive 2004/39, read in conjunction with point 1 of Section A of Annex I of the aforementioned directive, meant that brokering with a view to concluding a contract covering portfolio management services was considered as an investment service knowing that the latter consisted in the reception and transmission of orders in relation to one or more financial instruments.

First of all, the CJEU clarified that the relevant provision had to be interpreted in consideration of its wording but also of the context in which it occurred and the objectives of the legal framework of markets in financial instruments. On the one hand, the CJEU judged that even if the notion of “orders” was not defined in the directive, orders were deemed to be an investment service under point 1 of Section A of Annex I to the directive, which is defined as the purchase or sale of one or more financial instruments (para. 32). This interpretation was in line with the definition of Article 4(1)(5) and the other provisions of Directive 2004/39 (para. 31).

On the other hand, even if one of the objectives of Directive 2004/39 was to guarantee investor protection (para. 41), the latter could not justify such a broad interpretation of “investment service” that would include the brokering with a view to concluding a contract covering portfolio management services (para. 42). In fact, such an interpretation would run counter to the context of which point 1 of Section A of Annex I to Directive 2004/39 formed part (para. 43).
NoteworthyThe present judgment reinforces the legal certainty as it clarifies the notion of “investment services” under Article 4(1)(2) of Directive 2004/39, read in conjunction with point 1 of Section A of its Annex I and the context of the Directive. The reception, transmission and execution of orders fall within the ambit of MiFID only if they directly relate to a financial instrument. The sole fact that MiFID aims at protecting investors is not sufficient to extend its field of application in a way which would be incompatible with its wording and its general scheme. Reasoned in a rigourous and rather detailed way, this judgment has to be approved.

Foreign exchange transactions linked to a foreign denominated loan agreement cannot be regarded as an investment service

Judgment
C-312/14
03.12.2015
PartiesJurisdictionFormationJudge RapporteurAdvocate GeneralSubject-matter
Reference for a preliminary rulingBanif Plus Bank Zrt.
v
Márton Lantos,
Mártonné Lantos
CJUE4th Chamber A. PrechalN. JääskinenEU Banking & Financial Law — MiFID
KeywordsDirective 2004/39/EC MIFID — Articles 4(1) and 19(4), (5) and (9) — Concept of ‘investment services and activities’ — Consumer credit contracts — Foreign currency denominated loan — Advancement and reimbursement of loan in domestic currency — Terms relating to the exchange rate — Conduct of business obligations when providing investment services to clients − Obligation to assess the suitability or appropriateness of the service to be provided
Significant paras.Article 4(1)(2) of Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on markets in financial instruments must be interpreted as meaning that, subject to verification by the referring court, an investment service or activity within the meaning of that provision does not encompass certain foreign exchange transactions effected by a credit institution under the clauses of a foreign-currency-denominated loan agreement. These transactions involved in fixing the amount of the loan on the basis of the purchase price of the currency applicable when the funds have been advanced and determining the amounts of the monthly instalments on the basis of the sale price of that currency applicable when each monthly instalment is calculated.
The Court states that the transactions at issue do not come within the scope of Directive 2004/39 as they consist in exchange activities entirely incidental to the granting and repayment of a foreign-currency-denominated consumer loan. In fact, the only function of those transactions is to perform the fundamental payment obligation under the loan agreement. Furthermore, they do not have as their purpose the completion of an investment, as the consumer is seeking only to secure funds with a view to purchasing a consumer good or a service.
Moreover, the loan agreement, to which the foreign exchange transactions are linked, does not constitute a financial instrument as defined in Article 4(1)(17) of the Directive.
In this respect, the Court observes that those transactions do not relate to one of the financial instruments referred to in Directive 2004/39. In particular, they do not form part of futures, by which two parties respectively undertake to purchase and to sell, at a subsequent date, a so-called “underlying” asset at a price which is fixed at the time of the conclusion of the agreement.
NoteworthyEU consumer protection law, rather than investor protection law, should apply to the case at issue.
For example, Directive 2008/48 on credit agreements for consumers, which contain provisions aimed at protecting consumers by imposing certain obligations on the lender with respect to information to be provided to the consumer, could have been relevant to the case.
However, the request for preliminary ruling concerned solely the interpretation of Directive 2004/39 and did not therefore present an appropriate opportunity for developing the Court’s case law on the issue of consumer protection.

Directive 2004/39/EC (MiFID)

Judgment

C-140/13

12.11.2014

Parties

Jurisdiction

Formation

Judge Rapporteur

Advocate General

Subject-matter

Appeal

Annett Altmann, Torsten Altmann, Hans Abel, Waltraud Apitzsch, Uwe Apitzsch, Simone Arnold, Barbara Assheuer, Ingeborg Aubele, Karl-Heinz AubeleV

Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht

CJEU

2nd Chamber

J.L. da Cruz Vilaça

N. Jääskinen

EU Banking & Financial Law — MiFID

Key-words

 Directive 2004/39/EC (MiFID) — Article 54 — Obligation of professional secrecy incumbent on national financial supervisory authorities — Information concerning a fraudulent investment firm in compulsory liquidation

Summary

Article 54(1) and (2) of Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on markets in financial instruments (MiFID) must be interpreted as meaning that, in administrative proceedings, a national supervisory authority may rely on the obligation to maintain professional secrecy against a person who, in a case not covered by criminal law and not in a civil or commercial proceedings, requests it to grant access to information concerning an investment firm which is in judicial liquidation, even where that firm’s main business model involved large scale fraud and the wilful harming of investors’ interests and several executives of that firm have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment.As a matter of law, the effective monitoring of the activities of investment firms, through supervision within a Member State and the exchanging of information by the competent authorities of several Member States, requires that both the firms monitored and the competent authorities can be sure that the confidential information provided will, in principle, remain confidential.

The sole specific cases in which the general prohibition on divulging confidential information covered by professional secrecy does not preclude its transmission or use are set out in detail in Article 54 of Directive 2004/39.

Therefore, as regards information concerning investment firms declared bankrupt or being compulsorily wound up, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, the obligation to maintain professional secrecy may be disregarded, without prejudice to cases covered by criminal law, only where the three conditions referred to in Article 54 (2) — namely that the confidential information must not concern third parties, that such information is divulged in civil or commercial proceedings and that such information is necessary for carrying out such proceedings — are fulfilled.

In the case at hand, it does not appear from the order for reference that the dispute in the main proceedings, which concerns an administrative procedure relating to a request for access to information and documents held by a national supervisory authority on the basis of the IFG, is covered by criminal law, since that request was submitted after the criminal convictions of Phoenix’s executives, or that it is made in the course of civil or commercial proceedings brought by the applicants in the main proceedings.

Noteworthy

Dura lex, sed lex.The CJEU has adopted an approach which is stricter than in competition law private enforcement (cf. case Donau C-536/11). Accordingly, the applicants must take care to make their request for access to information in the course of civil or commercial proceedings, a notion likely to be clarified in future judgments.