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direct effectthe doctrine in the law of the EUROPEAN UNION that states that a Community Act has direct effect when those who are subject to community law are given a right. It applies to individuals and institutions. Persons who benefit from the right can sue for their protection in their national courts. These rights must be respected regardless of the domestic law, thus this is an inherent part of the notion of the supremacy of European law. The features looked for are that the measure should be clear, concise, unconditional and allow no discretion to the member states or Community institutions. Regulations nearly always have direct effect. A directive can also have a direct effect, but this is ascertained taking each case on its merits. The Court of Justice of the European Union has held that a directive can have vertical direct effect, which occurs where the measure in question is capable of producing rights between the addressee, which is usually the member state, and a third party. More difficult is horizontal direct effect, which is the situation where one third party seeks to utilize the Act to sue another fourth party.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006