Le Crédit Lyonnais Secures Victory Against European Central Bank

April 14, 2021

Cleary Gottlieb represented Le Crédit Lyonnais, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole, in its victory against the European Central Bank (ECB).

By a judgment of April 14, 2021, the General Court of the European Union annulled the ECB’s decision refusing to grant Le Crédit Lyonnais a full exemption from leverage ratio requirements with respect to certain regulated savings accounts (épargne réglementée).

In a judgment of July 13, 2018, the General Court had annulled the decisions by the ECB refusing to grant this exemption to several French banks including Crédit Agricole and its subsidiaries. Following this judgment, the ECB maintained its refusal to grant a full exemption to Le Crédit Lyonnais, granting the exemption only in part.

In its April 14, 2021 judgement, the court held that by refusing to grant Le Crédit Lyonnais a full exemption, the ECB had committed a manifest error in its assessment of the risks related to regulated savings accounts and had failed to take into account their specific characteristics and, specifically, the fact that they must be distinguished from accounts covered by deposit guarantee schemes. The court also ruled that, by failing to take into account these specific characteristics, the ECB had breached its obligation to comply with the court’s earlier judgment.

This is the third victory for Crédit Agricole and its subsidiaries against the ECB. In addition to the two judgements mentioned above, Crédit Agricole and its subsidiaries obtained, in a judgment of July 8, 2020, the annulment of sanctions that had been imposed by the ECB in connection with the inclusion of ordinary shares in its regulatory capital.