March 29, 2020. | In my legal dispute with Hessischer Rundfunk over its refusal to accept cash, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) set the date of 15 June to deal as a Grand Chamber and in oral proceedings with the questions referred by the Bundesverwaltungegericht (Federal Administrative Court).
The reference to the Grand Chamber, composed of 15 judges, and the fact that an oral hearing has been scheduled show that the ECJ attaches considerable importance to the case. This is not surprising, given the fundamental nature of the questions raised by the German Federal Administrative Court on the distribution of jurisdiction in monetary and currency matters.
Depending on the decision of the court, the following could happen:
Case 1. if it were to be made clear by the the highest court that national governments have no competence to restrict the use of euro cash as legal tender, or if high hurdles were set up to do so, this would imply that:
- public broadcasters will be forced to allow Germans to pay their legally required contribution in cash.
- the same would appiy to all public authorities in Germany and throughout the EU.
- national cash payment ceilings that exist in many countries, could become problematic under European law.
- the international campaign to eliminate cash will be severely disrupted.
Case 2: If the ECJ does not establish any or only very low barriers to national cash restrictions, this would mean that:
- the campaign to abolish cash would gain force
- national governments could use the ruling to argue the legality of introducing a parallel currency to the euro.
I explain this last point in more detail in a separate blog post.
The identifiers of my case and a connected case are C-422/19 and C-423/19.