Court rules that ACNUSA may not publish list of penalties and penalised operators on its website

The French authority in charge of preventing and controlling air pollution (ACNUSA) is also responsible for ensuring that airlines comply with the French regulation regarding noise pollution at and around airports.

In this respect, ACNUSA has the power to penalise airlines and operators that do not comply with the regulation. ACNUSA used to publish such penalties on its website.

However, on 1 July 2021 the Administrative Court (Tribunal administratif) of Paris ordered ACNUSA to remove from its website the reference to a penalty that it issued to an airline following a breach of the regulation.

The airline took action in the Court, claiming that ACNUSA’s publication of the penalties breached the French principle of criminal law that there can be no penalty without a text of law.

Indeed, ACNUSA’s publication of the relevant penalty constituted, in itself, an additional penalty that added to the penalty already sentenced against the airline. However, there is no provision in French criminal law that allows such publication.

Accordingly, despite ACNUSA’s defence that the publication was provided for in its internal regulations, the Court acceded to the airline’s request and ordered the authority to remove the publication from its website within 15 days.

In the future, airlines and operators should thus be able to request that in the case of a penalty, ACNUSA does not publish it on its website.