Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH v Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn.

JurisdictionEuropean Union
CourtCourt of Justice (European Union)
Writing for the CourtRosas
ECLIECLI:EU:C:2004:614
Docket NumberC-36/02
Celex Number62002CJ0036
Procedure TypeReference for a preliminary ruling
Date14 October 2004
Arrêt de la Cour

Case C-36/02

Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH

v

Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn

(Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Bundesverwaltungsgericht)

(Freedom to provide services – Free movement of goods – Restrictions – Public policy – Human dignity – Protection of fundamental values laid down by the national constitution – ‘Playing at killing’)

Summary of the Judgment

1. Freedom to provide services – Restrictions – Justification on grounds of public policy – Need for and proportionality of the measures – Existence of different systems of protection in other Member States – Not relevant

(Arts 46 EC and 49 EC)

2. Freedom to provide services – Restrictions – National legislation prohibiting the commercial exploitation of games simulating acts of homicide – Justification – Protection of public policy – Respect for human dignity as a general principle of law

(Arts 46 EC and 49 EC)

1. Whilst measures which restrict the freedom to provide services may be justified on public policy grounds only if they are necessary for the protection of the interests which they are intended to guarantee and only in so far as those objectives cannot be attained by less restrictive measures, it is not indispensable in that respect for the restrictive measure issued by the authorities of a Member State to correspond to a conception shared by all Member States as regards the precise way in which the fundamental right or legitimate interest in question is to be protected. Thus the need for, and proportionality of, the provisions adopted are not excluded merely because one Member State has chosen a system of protection different from that adopted by another State.

(see paras 36-38)

2. Community law does not preclude an economic activity consisting of the commercial exploitation of games simulating acts of homicide from being made subject to a national prohibition measure adopted on grounds of protecting public policy by reason of the fact that that activity is an affront to human dignity.

That measure cannot be regarded as one imposing an unjustified restriction on the freedom to provide services. In the first place, the protection of fundamental rights, it being stated that the Community legal order undeniably strives to ensure respect for human dignity as a general principle of law, constitutes a legitimate interest capable in principle of justifying a restriction on the obligations imposed by Community law, even by virtue of a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Treaty such as the freedom to provide services. Secondly, the measure in question corresponds to the level of protection of human dignity which the national constitution intended to ensure in the territory of the Member State concerned and does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objective pursued.

(see paras 34-35, 39-41, operative part)




JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (First Chamber)
14 October 2004(1)


(Freedom to provide services – Free movement of goods – Restrictions – Public policy – Human dignity – Protection of fundamental values laid down in the national constitution – ‘Playing at killing’)

In Case C-36/02,REFERENCE for a preliminary ruling under Article 234 EC,from the Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Germany), made by decision of 24 October 2001, received at the Court on 12 February 2002, in proceedings between: Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH

v

Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn,

THE COURT (First Chamber),,



composed of P. Jann, President of the Chamber, A. Rosas (Rapporteur), R. Silva de Lapuerta, K. Lenaerts and S. von Bahr, Judges, and Advocate General: C. Stix-Hackl,
Registrar: M.-F. Contet, Principal Administrator, having regard to the written procedure and further to the hearing on 4 February 2004,after considering the observations submitted on behalf of:
Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH, by P. Tuxhorn, Rechtsanwalt,
Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn, by F. Montag, Rechtsanwalt,
the German Government, by W.-D. Plessing, acting as Agent,
the Commission of the European Communities, by M. Patakia and C. Schmidt, acting as Agents,

after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 18 March 2004,

gives the following



Judgment

1
This reference for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Articles 49 to 55 EC on the freedom to provide services and Articles 28 to 30 EC on the free movement of goods.
2
The question referred to the Court of Justice by the Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court, Germany) was raised in an appeal on a point of law before that court by Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH (‘Omega’), in which that company challenged the compatibility with Community law of a prohibition order issued against it by the Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn (‘the Bonn police authority’) on 14 September 1994.
Facts, main proceedings and question referred
3
Omega, a German company, had, since 1 August 1994, been operating an installation known as a ‘laserdrome’, normally used for the practice of ‘laser sport’ in Bonn (Germany). The installation continued to be used after 14 September 1994, Omega having obtained authorisation to continue its use on a provisional basis by an order of the Verwaltungsgericht Köln (Administrative Court, Cologne) of 18 November 1994. The equipment used by Omega in its establishment, which included sub-machine-gun-type laser targeting devices and sensory tags fixed either in the firing corridors or to jackets worn by players, was initially developed from a children’s toy freely available on the market. That equipment having proved technically inadequate, Omega turned, from a date not specified but later than 2 December 1994, to equipment supplied by the British company Pulsar International Ltd (which subsequently became Pulsar Advanced Games Systems Ltd, hereinafter referred to as ‘Pulsar’). However, a franchising contract with Pulsar was not concluded until 29 May 1997.
4
Even before the public opening of the ‘laserdrome’, a part of the population manifested its opposition to the project. At the beginning of 1994, the Bonn police authority ordered Omega to supply it with a precise description of the working of the game intended in the ‘laserdrome’ and, by letter of 22 February 1994, warned it of its intention to issue a prohibition order in the event of it being possible to ‘play at killing’ people there. Omega replied, on 18 March 1994, that the game merely involved hitting fixed sensory tags installed in the firing corridors.
5
Having noticed that the object of the game played in the ‘laserdrome’ also included hitting sensory tags placed on the jackets worn by players, the Bonn police authority issued an order against Omega on 14 September 1994, forbidding it from ‘facilitating or allowing in its […] establishment games with the object of firing on human targets using a laser beam or other technical devices (such as infrared, for example), thereby, by recording shots hitting their targets, “playing at killing” people’, on pain of a DEM 10 000 fine for each game played in breach of the order.
6
That order was issued under powers conferred by Paragraph 14(1) of the Ordnungsbehördengesetz Nordrhein-Westfalen (Law governing the North Rhine-Westphalia Police authorities; ‘the OBG NW’), which provides: ‘The police authorities may take measures necessary to avert a risk to public order or safety in an individual case’.
7
According to the prohibition order of 14 September 1994, the games which took place in Omega’s establishment constituted a danger to public order, since the acts of simulated homicide and the trivialisation of violence thereby engendered were contary to fundamental values prevailing in public opinion.
8
Omega’s objection against that order was rejected by the Bezirksregierung Köln (Cologne District Authority) on 6 November 1995. By judgement of 3 September 1998, the Verwaltungsgericht Köln (Cologne Administrative Court) dismissed the ensuing court action. Omega’s appeal was also dismissed, on 27 September 2000, by the Oberverwaltungsgericht für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen (Higher Administrative Court for the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia) (Germany).
9
Omega then appealed on a point of law to the Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court). In support of its appeal,...

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46 practice notes
  • Kingdom of Spain v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 6 April 2006
    ...(c) British Dependent Territories citizens who acquire their citizenship from a connection with Gibraltar.’ 28 – Emphasis added. 29 – Case C-36/02 Omega [2004] ECR I-9609, paragraph 33. It represents settled case‑law: see, among the more recent cases, Case C-260/89 ERT [1991] ECR I-2925, pa......
  • Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice of the European Union
    • 18 December 2014
    ...the EU. 132 Examples to illustrate these issues can be found, inter alia, in the judgments in Schmidberger (C-112/00, EU:C:2003:333); Omega (C-36/02, EU:C:2004:614); International Transport Workers' Federation and Finnish Seamen's Union (‘Viking’, C-438/05, EU:C:2007:772); Laval un Partneri......
  • Conclusions de l'avocat général Mme J. Kokott, présentées le 15 avril 2021.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 15 April 2021
    ...définition de l’ordre public, arrêts du 4 décembre 1974, van Duyn (41/74, EU:C:1974:133, point 18) ; du 14 octobre 2004, Omega (C‑36/02, EU:C:2004:614, point 31) ; du 22 décembre 2010, Sayn-Wittgenstein (C‑208/09, EU:C:2010:806, point 87), ainsi que du 2 juin 2016, Bogendorff von Wolffersdo......
  • European Parliament v Council of the European Union.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 27 June 2006
    ...37; Case C-94/00 Roquette Frères [2002] ECR I-9011, paragraph 25; Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, paragraph 71; and Case C-36/02 Omega [2004] ECR I-9609, paragraph 33). 36 In addition, Article 6(2) EU states that ‘the Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Kingdom of Spain v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 6 April 2006
    ...(c) British Dependent Territories citizens who acquire their citizenship from a connection with Gibraltar.’ 28 – Emphasis added. 29 – Case C-36/02 Omega [2004] ECR I-9609, paragraph 33. It represents settled case‑law: see, among the more recent cases, Case C-260/89 ERT [1991] ECR I-2925, pa......
  • Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice of the European Union
    • 18 December 2014
    ...the EU. 132 Examples to illustrate these issues can be found, inter alia, in the judgments in Schmidberger (C-112/00, EU:C:2003:333); Omega (C-36/02, EU:C:2004:614); International Transport Workers' Federation and Finnish Seamen's Union (‘Viking’, C-438/05, EU:C:2007:772); Laval un Partneri......
  • Conclusions de l'avocat général Mme J. Kokott, présentées le 15 avril 2021.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 15 April 2021
    ...définition de l’ordre public, arrêts du 4 décembre 1974, van Duyn (41/74, EU:C:1974:133, point 18) ; du 14 octobre 2004, Omega (C‑36/02, EU:C:2004:614, point 31) ; du 22 décembre 2010, Sayn-Wittgenstein (C‑208/09, EU:C:2010:806, point 87), ainsi que du 2 juin 2016, Bogendorff von Wolffersdo......
  • European Parliament v Council of the European Union.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 27 June 2006
    ...37; Case C-94/00 Roquette Frères [2002] ECR I-9011, paragraph 25; Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, paragraph 71; and Case C-36/02 Omega [2004] ECR I-9609, paragraph 33). 36 In addition, Article 6(2) EU states that ‘the Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 books & journal articles
  • Pluralism, Deference and the Margin of Appreciation Doctrine
    • European Union
    • European Law Journal Nbr. 17-1, January 2011
    • 1 January 2011
    ...477 and 479.65 Craig, ibid,at704.66 cf ibid, at 704; Wouters, op cit n29supra, at 56; Tridimas, op cit n39supra, at 193. See, eg, Case C-36/02,Omega Spielhallen [2004] ECR I-9609; Case C-24/00, Commission v France (vitamins and caffeine) [2004]ECR I-1277; Case C-387/99, Commission v Germany......
  • El reconocimiento mutuo en materia penal y los derechos fundamentales: de la confianza «ciega» a la confianza reservada
    • European Union
    • El reconocimiento mutuo en el derecho Español y Europeo Parte II. Reconocimiento mutuo, asilo y derecho penal
    • 5 May 2018
    ...a lo que ocurre en el Estado de emisión ha implicado que el interés preponde- de octubre de 2004, as. C-36-02, Omega Spielhallen , ECLI:EU:C:2004:614, apdos. 34-35. En este sentido, en general, vid. MARGUERY (2013: 298). 337 Conclusiones del abogado general Yves Bot presentadas el 3 de marz......
  • A Disabled Market: Free Movement of Goods and Services in the EU and Disability Accessibility
    • European Union
    • European Law Journal Nbr. 15-5, September 2009
    • 1 September 2009
    ...Tobacco Advertising case, n 52 supra, on this point.119 Case C-112/00, Schmidberger v Austria [2003] ECR I-5659.120 Paragraph 74. See also Case C-36/02, Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH v Oberbürg-ermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn [2004] ECR I-9609, in which the ECJ held tha......
  • El reconocimiento mutuo y el derecho primario del mercado interior
    • European Union
    • El reconocimiento mutuo en el derecho Español y Europeo Parte I. Reconocimiento mutuo, mercado y administración
    • 5 May 2018
    ...de 12 de junio de 2003, as. C-112/00, Schmidberger , ECLI:EU:C:2003:333, apdo. 82, y de 14 de octubre de 2004, as. C-36/02, Omega , ECLI:EU:C:2004:614, apdo. 35. 40 STJUE de 26 de octubre de 2006, as. C-65/05, Comisión c. Grecia (juegos electrónicos) , ECLI:EU:C:2006:673, apdo. 32. 41 STJUE......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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