Factortame Ltd and others v Secretary of State for Transport (No 2) (Case C-213/89)  1 All ER 70
THE COURT OF JUSTICE delivered the following judgment.
1. By a judgment of 18 May 1989, which was received at the court on 10 July 1989, the House of Lords referred to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling under art 177 of the EEC Treaty two questions on the interpretation of Community law (see Factortame Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport  2 All ER 692,  2 AC 85). Those questions concern the extent of the power of national courts to grant interim relief where rights claimed under Community law are at issue....
13. The House of Lords, before which the matter was brought, gave its above-mentioned judgment of 18 May 1989 (see  2 All ER 692,  2 AC 85). In its judgment it found in the first place that the claims by the applicants that they would suffer irreparable damage if the interim relief which they sought were not granted and they were successful in the main proceedings were well founded. However, it held that, under national law, the English courts had no power to grant interim relief in a case such as the one before it. More specifically, it held that the grant of such relief was precluded by the old common law rule that an interim injunction may not be granted against the Crown, that is to say against the government, in conjunction with the presumption that an Act of Parliament is in conformity with Community law until such time as a decision on its compatibility with that law has been given.
14. The House of Lords then turned to the question whether, notwithstanding that rule of national law, English courts had the power, under Community law, to grant an interim injunction against the Crown.
15. Consequently, taking the view that the dispute raised an issue concerning the interpretation of Community law, the House of Lords decided, pursuant to art 177 of the EEC Treaty, to stay the proceedings until the Court of Justice had given a preliminary ruling on the following questions....
17. It is clear from the information before the court, and in particular from the judgment making the reference and, as described above, the course taken by the proceedings in the national courts before which the case came at first and second instance, that the preliminary question raised by the House of Lords seeks essentially to ascertain whether a national court which, in a case before it concerning Community law, considers that the sole obstacle which precludes it from granting interim relief is a rule of national law must disapply that rule.
18. For the purpose of replying to that question, it is necessary to point out that in its judgment in Amministrazione delle Finanze dello Stato v Simmenthal SpA Case 106/77  ECR 629 at 643 (paras 14, 17) the court held that directly applicable rules of Community law must be fully and uniformly applied in all the Member States from the date of their entry into force and for so long as they continue in force [and that] in accordance with the principle of the precedence of Community law, the relationship between provisions of the Treaty and directly applicable measures of the institutions on the one hand and the national law of the Member States on the other is such that those provisions and measures ( by their entry into force render automatically inapplicable any conflicting provision of national law.
19. In accordance with the case law of the court, it is for the national courts, in application of the principle of co-operation laid down in art 5 of the EEC Treaty, to ensure the legal protection which persons derive from the direct effect of provisions of Community law.....
20. The court has also held that any provision of a national legal system and any legislative, administrative or judicial practice which might impair the effectiveness of Community law by withholding from the national court having jurisdiction to apply such law the power to do everything necessary at the moment of its application to set aside national legislative provisions which might prevent, even temporarily, Community rules from having full force and effect are incompatible with those requirements, which are the very essence of Community law (see the Simmenthal case...).
21. It must be added that the full effectiveness of Community law would be just as much impaired if a rule of national law could prevent a court seised of a dispute governed by Community law from granting interim relief in order to ensure the full effectiveness of the judgment to be given on the existence of the rights claimed under Community law. It follows that a court which in those circumstances would grant interim relief, if it were not for a rule of national law, is obliged to set aside that rule.
22. That interpretation is reinforced by the system established by art 177 of the EEC Treaty, whose effectiveness would be impaired if a national court, having stayed proceedings pending the reply by the Court of Justice to the question referred to it for a preliminary ruling, were not able to grant interim relief until it delivered its judgment following the reply given by the Court of Justice.
23. Consequently, the reply to the question raised should be that Community law must be interpreted as meaning that a national court which, in a case before it concerning Community law, considers that the sole obstacle which precludes it from granting interim relief is a rule of national law must set aside that rule.