It is essential to ensure that Community rights are enforceable against both the public and private parties to a lawsuit.
Section 2(1) of the European Communities Act1 1972, which gave legal effect to EC law in the United Kingdom, states that, "All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictionsprovided for by or under the Treaties, are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognized and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly"2. It renders effective all directly effective Community law, irrespective of whether they were made prior to or after the passing of the Act.
Section 3 of this act makes it mandatory for all the courts to interpret EC law according to the rulings of the ECJ. The UK courts have all along been applying directly effective provisions without any reluctance. However, their unwillingness to apply the Von Colson principle3 is clearly evident.
The purpose of this Directive is to put into effect in the Member States the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, including promotion, and to vocational training and as regards working conditions This principle isreferred to as "the principle of equal treatment"5.
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In Von Colson8, the House of Lords were of the opinion that it did not provide a power to interfere with the method or result of the interpretation of national legislation by national courts. They observed that the Equal Treatment Directive was subsequent to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and that therefore it would be unfair on Reliance to 'distort' the construction of the Act to accommodate it. The House of Lords applied similar objections in relation to the Northern Ireland legislation9, even though it was ratified after the Directive. "Direct effect means that someone may cite a Directive as law without having to cite any domestic legislation which was meant to implement that Directive"10.
Indirect effect was described in Von Colson v Land Nordrhein-Westfalen11, where the ECJ observed that courts can interpret national legislation in the light of the Directive. Its exact status is unclear as it a judicial tool of interpretation rather than a static analytic method12. In respect of EC Law the ECJ's decision is final. Since, Treaty is generally couched in wide-ranging terms; the Court has to provide the necessary detail for the functioning of European law. Further, the decisions of the ECJ are binding on the courts of member states with no right of appeal. In a manner analogous to the House of Lords, the ECJ is not bound by its own previous decisions, although it usually follows them.
It falls within the jurisdiction of the ECJ to hear complaints in respect of non fulfillment of treaty obligations by a member state. It is also the competent authority in deciding the legality of actions of the Council of Ministers and the