A German fruit importer has lost a legal bid at the European Court of Justice that could have had worldwide implications, namely to establish that the agreements of the World Trade Organisation create rights that can be relied upon in national courts by private citizens.

OGT Fruchthandelsgesellschaft mbH had challenged the level of duty that it had to pay on Ecuadorian banana imports, claiming that their high level had been rendered null and void by the WTO ruling that the EU's banana import regime illegally discriminated against Latin American banana producers. But the court has ruled that WTO disputes settlement body rulings do not create individual rights, but only impact on governments.

The ECJ decision means that the EU remains the only international institution that can pass laws that have a direct effect on citizens, regardless of whether they are implemented by national governments.

By Keith Nuthall, just-food.com correspondent