The "Chevron Doctrine" in the US takes its name from the case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984) in which the US Supreme Court held it would defer to an administrative agency's interpretation of the statute that grants it powers if that interpretation is permissible and reasonable. Consequently, the US Supreme Court will not examine whether there are other, competing interpretations that may be better than the one put forward by the administrative agency.
Now look at the Court of First Instance's judgment in Case T-216/05 Mebrom v. Commission.
In that case, Mebrom, a trader of a pesticide called methyl bromide, sued the Commission because it did not receive quotas for import licenses after January 1st, 2005. Under the Montreal Protocol the use of methyl bromide was to be phased out from January 1st, 2005 except for certain strictly defined uses because it depletes the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol was implemented in the EC by Regulation 2037/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 29th, 2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. That Regulation was applied by the Commission in such a way that before January 1st, 2005 registered traders received a quota for import licenses of methyl bromide based on their historical import quantities. But from January 1st, 2005 the Commission did not grant quota for licenses to traders at all but gave them in very limited circumstances to fumigators who actually used the product to dust crops. The fumigators with quota then contacted traders to effect the importation of the quantity of methyl bromide required. The result of the change was that traders were no longer assured of a given volume of trade and they had to compete between themselves for the business of the fumigators.
The plaintiff claimed that Regulation 2037/2000 entitled traders to receive quotas after January 1st 2005 and that the Commission was under a legal obligation to give quotas.
The Court of First Instance disagreed and dismissed the action.
What is particularly intriguing is paragraph 83 of the judgment in which the Court of First Instance held :
"In the light of the foregoing, it must be held that the Commission was not obliged under [Regulation 2037/2000] to award an import quota in 2005 to the applicant as an importer and that the new system established by the Commission from 1 January 2005 constitutes a lawful application of Articles 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Regulation that is compatible with those provisions. In those circumstances, it is not necessary to examine whether the Commission could have done otherwise and continued after 31 December 2004 to award import quotas to importers."
Now then, that last sentence of paragraph 83 looks like a rudimentary form of the Chevron doctrine.
The Court of First Instance also handed down a judgment in another case - Case T-198/05 Mebrom v. Commission - covering a different aspect of the problem.