Greenpeace convicted for “improper actions” against AREVA
November 17, 2006
On November 17, 2006, the Paris Court of Appeal decided to uphold the ruling of the Paris High Court on July 9, 2004, in the case brought by AREVA against Greenpeace for its antinuclear communication campaign that misappropriated the group's logotype by adding a skull with the slogan “No to plutonium - a halt speaks for itself”.
AREVA considered, under article 1382 of the Civil Code, that its business and reputation had been abusively discredited by Greenpeace's campaign.
Greenpeace refuted the application of this article in point, citing, for its part, the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of expression.
The Paris Court of Appeal pointed out the limits to applying the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of expression, basing its decision on the notion of responsibility and more particularly on article 1382 of the Civil Code, which reads: “Any person who causes harm to another shall be bound to repair this harm”. The Court clearly stated:
“We consider […] that this freedom of expression, despite its purpose to inform the public, is not absolute. It must not, therefore, by its form or content, be excessive to the point of becoming abuse”.
“We consider that in the case in point, […] the Greenpeace associations […] did by this reasoning abuse the right of freedom of expression, discrediting the whole range of products and services of SPCEA* and, therefore, are guilty of improper actions which they must repair.”
* Holding company of the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (French Atomic Energy Commission), legal name of AREVA.