Author(s) José Albino Pinto Nogueira
Advisor(s) Joaquim Freitas Rocha
Year 2011

Synopsis The European Court of Justice has been applying, since the 1970’s, the concept of abuse. Influenced by the heterogenic theories in force in several Member States, the court built a autonomous and suis generis concept who, however, lacks a clear definition. The court uses it to the justification of several of its judgments, seduced by its capacity to explain its decisions even in some harsh normative backgrounds. Abuse is, currently, one of the key features of the courts decisions on direct and indirect taxation. It is also one of the engines of the normative evolution of this area. Given the advantages that are attributed to the concept, abuse has been used in an increasing number of decisions in tax field. Nevertheless, there are still some grey areas, waiting for further efforts of dogmatic clarification. This dissertation aims not only to provide a comprehensive study of the dogmatic features of the concept, as it is applied in the tax field, but also to offer a critical exam of the function and limits to the application of the concept. We will depart from an etymological and historical study, which will be followed by a hermeneutic and heuristic analysis of the current concept of abuse, highlighting the specificities or idiosyncrasies associated with its use by the Court. Next, we will examine how the concept is used in the resolution of tax questions, identifying the main problems emerging from that use. The study allowed us to reach several conclusions. Among them we concluded that the concept is, currently, a key feature of the ECJ’s case law on European taxation, who has some heuristic specificities in accordance with the area in which is used. The concept is used not only as a legal tool but also as a political instrument, which is used towards the harmonization of the European tax area and the construction of the European single market. Lastly and, despite the benefits arising from the use of the concept, we concluded that the simple use of the technique of purposive interpretation, would allow to reach the same results, reason why we suggest its replacement by that interpretative technique.

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