UK in breach of EC drinking water rules

At the end of November, the European Court of Justice held that the UK was in breach of obligations contained in the 1980 EC Directive on drinking water quality. The judgement (Case C-337/89, 25 November 1992) does not develop any fundamental new legal principles of Community law, but the decision raises a number of interesting issues and has symbolic importance as being the first time that the Court has held the UK to be in breach of an environmental Directive.

The case was brought by the European Commission under Article 169 of the EC Treaty, and alleged a number of breaches of the Directive. The first category fell within what has been termed "formal" compliance - the introduction of necessary national laws and other measures to implement the Directive by 18 July 1982.

According to the Commission, relevant legislation had not been implemented in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Regulations in re

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