French court to decide on suspending ban on Daimler units

Article by Anita Panait, on August 27, 2013

France's Council of State, the top administrative court in the country, would decide on August 27, 2013 whether to suspend a government ban on the sale of some Mercedes-Benz models equipped with Daimler's preferred air condition coolant. France barred the sale Mercedes-Benz vehicles after the German carmaker decided not to equip them with a new, more environmentally friendly refrigerant R1234yf, which is approved by the European Union.

Daimler wants the court to issue an injunction that will suspend the government's ban, claiming that R1234yf poses a potential fire hazard. Jacques-Henri Stahl, president of the tribunal judging the case in the Council of State, told lawyers for Daimler and the French government during a hearing held on August 23, 2013, that the "stakes are big," adding that they are "at the heart of overlapping national and European issues."

According to Daimler's lawyer Denis Garreau, the ban affected around 60 percent of the carmaker's sales in France. He noted that no other EU member state "has taken the measures that France has taken."

He called France's action to suspend sales as a "brutal decision," noting that "Daimler's position has been jeopardized" in the country. Stahl could temporarily suspend the France's ban on Tuesday as well as order the government to resume assigning licence plates to Mercedes cars on a temporary basis.

It is also likely that the matter would lead to a more drawn-out judicial procedure wherein several Council of State judges would decide whether to permanent overrule the ban.

France has argued that the ban over the sale of Daimler's vehicles is legally permissible under an EU law that protects the environment and public health.  On the other hand, Toyota also confirmed it has stopped using R1234yf and has started equipping three models with the old refrigerant to respect their "customers' safety concerns." [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: daimler, france

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