C-120/86 Mulder [1988]

C-120/86 Mulder v Minister van Landbouw en Visserij [1988] ECR 2321 is an important EU law case establishing that legal certainty and the protection of legitimate expectations are the general principles of EU law.

Mulder, a farmer, entered into an agreement not to produce milk for a specified period in exchange for a premium under Regulation No 1078/77. However, upon completing the agreed-upon period and applying for a milk quota under Regulation No 857/84, Mulder faced a setback. Due to his non-production during the reference year for quota determination, he was denied a quota, preventing him from resuming the marketing of his milk as per Regulation No 857/84.

The court ruled that Regulation No 857/84 is invalid to the extent that it infringes on the legitimate expectations of individuals who had made undertakings under Regulation No 1078/77. This decision underscores the significance of legal certainty and the protection of legitimate expectations as fundamental principles of EU law.

The judgment emphasised that producers, such as Mulder, who were encouraged by a Community measure to suspend marketing for a limited period in the general interest and in exchange for a premium, could legitimately expect not to face restrictions upon the expiration of their undertaking. The court recognised the importance of protecting the legitimate expectations of individuals who had acted in accordance with Community provisions, preventing them from being subjected to specific restrictions after fulfilling their obligations under the encouragement of the Community measure.

This landmark case highlights the court's commitment to upholding legal certainty and safeguarding legitimate expectations as core principles of EU law. It reinforces the idea that individuals who act in accordance with Community measures should be able to rely on the commitments made and should not face unforeseen restrictions or consequences contrary to the expectations created by the relevant regulations.
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