Acte clair definition

Published by a LexisNexis EU Law expert

What does Acte clair mean?

Acte clair is a doctrine that permits national courts of last instance to refrain from requesting a preliminary ruling under Article 267(3) TFEU from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) when the point of EU law at issue is indubitably obvious.

In its CILFIT judgement (Case 283/81), the CJEU confirmed the existence of the acte clair doctrine in EU law and also laid down the conditions for its application. According to the CILFIT ruling, national courts of last instance in the meaning of Article 267(3) TFEU can regard cases acte clair when the correct application of EU law is so obvious that there is no scope for a reasonable doubt; the correct application should be equally clear to the courts of the other Member States and to the CJEU. The doctrine plays an important role in avoiding the prolongation of litigation that a preliminary reference may cause. The restrictive conditions of CILFIT are however an attempt by the CJEU to prevent national courts of last instance to avoid making preliminary references in doubtful cases.

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