Highlight 25 June 2012

Krogerus successfully represents Finland’s largest pharmacy before the Court of Justice of the European Union

In a preliminary ruling concerning the right of establishment, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on 21 June 2012 that the legal status of the University of Helsinki Pharmacy (Yliopiston Apteekki) is not in conflict with EU law.

The Finnish Medicines Act imposes on the University of Helsinki Pharmacy a number of special tasks involving pharmacological research, pharmacy teaching and the manufacturing of rare medicines. In order to carry out these tasks, the pharmacy is allowed to operate a larger number of branch pharmacies. The Court of Justice stated that this arrangement is fully acceptable and necessary, provided that the branch pharmacies contribute to the accomplishment of the pharmacy’s tasks. The University of Helsinki Pharmacy maintains that the branch pharmacies play an important part in this.

The judgment of the Court of Justice was given on the request of the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court. The Supreme Administrative Court decided to seek a preliminary ruling in the matter in February 2011, following a complaint by a group of private pharmacists concerning a branch pharmacy licence in the city of Vantaa. The questions raised by the Supreme Administrative Court dealt with whether the licensing scheme was in line with the EU right of establishment, as defined in Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The judgment of the Court of Justice strongly suggests that this is, indeed, the case.

The University of Helsinki Pharmacy, owned by the University of Helsinki, is Finland’s largest pharmacy, with revenue of EUR 264 million and 978 employees. It was represented in the Court of Justice by partner Katri Joenpolvi and counsel Terhi Kauti.

Through its role in this case, Krogerus asserts itself as one of Finland’s foremost law firms in practicing European single market law, as well as in handling assignments related to the challenging interface between the public and private sectors.

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