- During the Icelandic 'Cod Wars' of the 1970s, when the rights of the UK trawlers to fish in the North Atlantic were reduced, another fishing disagreement arose in the 1980s with Spain. Spanish fishermen tried to increase their fishing quota by using British-registered vessels crewed by Spanish fishermen to fish in British waters.
- In 1988, the Conservative Government passed laws intended to stop this. In the Government's view the UK fishing fleets were in a sufficiently desperate state without the additional burden of Spanish interference.
- However, the Conservative legislation was unanimoisly judged by 5 Law Lords to be in breach of EU law, and that the breach was sufficient enough to entitle the fishermen to claim compensation.
- The Law Lords also said that although the Government's intention was to protect the British fishing communities, the effect was to discriminate against Spanish nationals, thereby flouting one of the most basic principles of EU Law.
- The Law Lords further argued that the Government had deliberately decided to run the risk of introducing the legislation, knowing that it could be unlawful.
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- The case against the Conservative Government was brought to the European Court of Justice by the Spanish fishing company 'Factortame Ltd' and almost 100 other Spanish fishing companies. They claimed for losses while their ships were laid up for over three years from 1988-1991. The European Court awarded them £55 million plus interest of about £26 million.
- Plymouth fisheries manager Peter Bromley branded the desicion a "sick joke. We seem to be kow-towing to Europe over everything at the moment."
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- My Politics Teacher
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