The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Main menu:

Case:
No. 248310 Case Association Alliance pour les droits de la vie
Date:
13 November 2002
Translated by:
Tony Weir
Copyright:
Professor Sir B. S. Markesinis

No. 248310
Case Association Alliance pour les droits de la vie

13 November 2002

Given that the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie seeks the annulment of the decision on 18 June 2002 in which the single judge (juge des référés) of the administrative tribunal of Paris dismissed its application for an order suspending the decision of the Minister for Research on 30 April 2002 whereby, relying on articles R.673-21 to 24 of the Code of Public Health, he authorised the importation by the UPR Laboratory of the Centre National de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) of two pluripotent stem cell lines originating in human embryos, namely HES of caryotype XX and XY, for the purpose of research on them;

On the argument of the Minister of Youth, National Education and Research and the CNRS that the claimant’s request for annulment is inadmissible:

Given, first, that though the application of the claimant Association was made after the cells, whose importation was authorised by the decision under attack, had actually been imported from Australia on 26 June 2002, the question is nevertheless not moot, in as much as the authorisation was granted in view of a continuing programme of research on “the differentiation of these cells into mesenchymal cells and the characterisation of their commitment to a given developmental pathway”;

Given, again, that, contrary to the arguments of the defendants, the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie did have standing to seek to have quashed the decision of the single judge which rejected its request for suspension;

Given, thirdly, that the claim is not rendered inadmissible by the fact that this request in the name of the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie was presented by its president, who had been empowered to do so by the administrative council of the Association, whereas the statutes of the Association provide that he could take legal action only after a discussion by its general assembly, for it is only when the situation is urgent that a claim can be brought before a single judge and any orders he makes can be only provisional (article L.511-1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure);

Given that it follows that the objections to the admissibility of the pourvoi of the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie based on its being moot, that it has no standing and that the president could not bring the action must be dismissed;

On the order under attack:

Given that the purpose of the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie is “the defence of life and the rights attaching to all living humans” and that, according to the dossier, the stem cells whose importation the Minister for Research authorised for purposes of research on them had been obtained in Australia, at the cost of their destruction, from human embryos fertilised in vitro, the Association had an interest in questioning the authorisation; that in deciding ex officio that the Association had no such interest, on the ground that stem cells could not be treated as an embryo or as a living person, and so deciding without informing the Association in the course of the written or oral proceedings the single judge of the administrative tribunal of Paris misapplied the rules of standing to question decisions for excès de pouvoir and disregarded his obligations under article R.611-7 and R. 522-9 of the Code of Administrative Procedure; that on these two grounds his decision must be annulled;

[…]

On the demand for suspension of the Minister’s authorisation:

Given that under article L.521-2 of the Code of Administrative Procedure “When annulment is sought of an administrative decision, whatever its content, the single judge may order the suspension of the decision or some of its effects if this is justified by the urgency of the situation and an argument has been made which, at that stage of the litigation, is apt to raise a serious doubt about the legality of the decision. If suspension is granted, a speedy decision is required on the request for annulment or amendment of the decision, and the suspension comes to an end when such decision is made.”

Given that under article L.2141-8 of the Code of Public Health, from the Law of 29 July 1994 (no. 94-654) “The conception in vitro of human embryos for the purposes of study, research or experiment is forbidden. No experiments may be undertaken on the embryo.” These being the sole legal provisions in force at the date of the Minister’s decision the argument of the claimants that the Minister misapplied them raises a serious doubt over the legality of his decision, since he could not rely on the bill on bioethics then being discussed in Parliament,
Given that while an order of suspension may only be issued in a situation of urgency, such urgency, to be determined objectively in the light of all the circumstances, is present if the administrative decision in question prejudices in a manner which is sufficiently serious and direct the public interest, the position of the claimant or the interests it defends;

Given that the requirement of urgency laid down by article L. 521-1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure is satisfied in view of the serious and direct effect of the Minister’s decision of 30 April 2002 on the public interest underlying the legislator’s prohibition in article L.2141-8 of the Code of Public Health as well as the interests which the Association defends;

Given that it follows that the Association Alliance pour les Droits de la Vie is entitled to seek the suspension of the execution of the decision of the Minister for Research dated 30 April 2002 whereby he authorised the CNRS to import from Australia two lines of pluripotent stem cell lines obtained from human embryos and to proceed to undertake research on those lines, and that such suspension should last for a period of four months from the date of the present decision, so as to permit the administrative tribunal of Paris, if presented with a demand for the annulment of that decision, to proceed with its decision thereon; …

DECIDES:
1. The order of the juge des referés of the administrative tribunal of Paris dated 18 June 2002 is annulled;
2. The decision of the Minister of Research whereby he authorised the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique to import two lines of pluripotent stem cell lines obtained from human embryos and to proceed to do research on them is suspended until 13 March 2003.
3. …



Back to top

This page last updated Friday, 30-Sep-2005 17:17:06 CDT. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.