Judgment in Case C‑151/14 (excerpts), 2015

In Case C‑151/14,

ACTION for failure to fulfil obligations under Article 258 TFEU, brought on 31 March 2014,

European Commission, represented by I. Rubene and H. Støvlbæk, acting as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg,

applicant,

v

Republic of Latvia, represented by D. Pelše, I. Kalniņš and K. Freimanis, acting as Agents,

defendant,

supported by:

Czech Republic, represented by M. Smolek and J. Vláčil, acting as Agents,

Hungary, represented by M. Tátrai and M. Fehér, acting as Agents,

interveners,

THE COURT (Seventh Chamber),

composed of J.-C. Bonichot, President of the Chamber, A. Arabadjiev (Rapporteur) and J.L. da Cruz Vilaça, Judges,

Advocate General: P. Cruz Villalón,

Registrar: A. Calot Escobar,

having regard to the written procedure,

having decided, after hearing the Advocate General, to proceed to judgment without an Opinion,

gives the following

Judgment

1 By its application the European Commission asks the Court to declare that, by imposing a nationality requirement for access to the profession of notary, the Republic of Latvia has failed to fulfil its obligations under Articles 49 TFEU and 51 TFEU.

Legal context

The general organisation of the profession of notary in Latvia

2 The organisation of the notarial profession is governed by the Law on the notarial profession (Notariāta likums) of 9 July 1993 (Latvijas Vēstnesis, 1993, No 48; ‘the Law on the notarial profession’).

3 Article 1(2) of that law states that it governs the professional and business activity of notaries who, under Article 238 of that law, have a professional occupation.

4 Under Article 3 of that law, notaries are regarded as public officers. By virtue of Article 5 thereof, they are subject only to the law and perform their functions on a fully independent basis.

5 In accordance with Article 8(1) of that law, notaries are nominated, transferred and dismissed by the Minister for Justice.

6 As regards the conditions of access to the notarial profession, Article 9(1) of that law provides that ‘only nationals of the Republic of Latvia may be notaries’.

(..)

76 In those circumstances, it must be concluded that the activities of notaries as defined in the current state of the Latvian legal system are not connected with the exercise of official authority within the meaning of the first paragraph of Article 51 TFEU.

77 Consequently, the nationality condition required by Latvian legislation for access to the profession of notary constitutes discrimination on grounds of nationality prohibited by Article 49 TFEU.

78 Having regard to all the foregoing considerations, it must be held that the Commission’s action is well founded.

(..)

On those grounds, the Court (Seventh Chamber) hereby:

  1. Declares that, by imposing a nationality requirement for access to the profession of notary, the Republic of Latvia failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 49 TFEU;

Document data: ECLI:EU:C:2015:577, 10.09.2015. Available at: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=167285&pageIndex=0&doclang=en (also available in Latvian)

Publisher’s note: while the Latvian law was subsequently amended to allow EU citizens to work as notaries, the prohibition against all others still stands, as at 2019. Notably, it continues to prevent “non-citizens of Latvia”, with a closer legal link to Latvia than citizens of other EU member states, from being notaries.

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