24 Oct 2016, 24 mins ago

In September the General Court of the EU is set to hand down more judgments in relation to applications to annul sanctions imposed by the Council of the EU against several former senior members of the Ukrainian government.

These sanctions were imposed following the overthrow of Victor Yanukovych’s Government and have been the subject of lengthy litigation before the EU Courts. Gherson currently represents over 25% of the individuals on this sanctions list.

In January 2016, in one of the first of these cases to be heard by the General Court of the EU, Gherson secured the annulment of similar sanctions imposed against one of our clients. Following the hearing of that case, the Council of the EU imposed fresh sanctions and these ‘new’ sanctions are currently the subject of further legal challenges.

The EU sanctions regime is an incredibly draconian and opaque process and in our experience of handling these cases individuals often find themselves subjected to sanctions on extremely flimsy grounds. The imposition of sanctions by the EU can have a devastating effect on not only the individual concerned but also business associates and family members.

The sanctions are generally renewed annually and the window of time for individuals to make their representations is extremely narrow. The process for challenging the imposition of sanctions is legally complex and extremely slow.

It remains to be seen what happens in September but, despite a series of rulings overturning sanctions against individuals on this list, the Council of the EU has thus far persisted in re-imposing restrictive measures on very similar grounds. Whatever happens in September it is unlikely to be the end of the story for the individuals concerned – further litigation is almost inevitable.

Targeted international sanctions remain a powerful weapon of choice of both the US and the EU at present. Anyone who finds themselves subject to international sanctions or fears they may be targeted should take expert advice as a matter of urgency.