Logística La Serenísima S.A. et al. v. Provincia de Mendoza

L 238 XLVI
Download Judgment: Spanish
Country: Argentina
Region: Americas
Year: 2015
Court: Supreme Court of Justice [Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación Argentina]
Health Topics: Public safety, Water, sanitation and hygiene
Human Rights: Right to property, Right to work
Tags: Health regulation, Public safety, Right to Property, sanitation and hygiene

The plaintiffs, Logística La Serenísima S.A, Danone Argentina S.A., Mastellone Hermanos S.A. and Mastellone San Luis brought the case to the Supreme Court of Justice by original jurisdiction to initiate a declarative action (an preventive action to request the cessation of a state of uncertainty that cause a harm and there is no legal alternative way to end that situation) against the Province of Mendoza to declare the unconstitutionality of articles 1 and 3 of the Provincial Law 6959 which created a taxation system for the hygienic control of dairy products. The Province of Mendoza created a system where for the inter-provincial commerce of a dairy product, before the product entered the province, the plaintiffs should inform the Provincial Farming Directory that they wanted to commercialize in Mendoza, then record that they entered the province and pay a tax. The plaintiffs claim that this system violated articles 9, 10, 11, 12 and 75 inc 13 of the National Constitution that stipulated that there should be no obstacles to the freedom of commerce between provinces and that the National Congress had jurisdiction to legislate inter-provincial commerce.

The Supreme Court of Justice held that it was a case of original jurisdiction and that there was a harm due to a state of uncertainty created by the Province of Mendoza that denied the circulation of the plaintiff's transport because it refused to pay the provincial tax.

The National Congress legislated in the Argentine Food Code the norms regarding food control that established in article 3 that "the manufacturing, elaboration or fractioning of products are authorized by this Code [...] can be commercialized, circulated and be sold in all the National territory, notwithstanding the control of hygienic and sanitation conditions, bromatology, commercial identification in the jurisdiction of destination." The ANMAT and the SENASA were the only agents authorized to impose a tax over food commerce, and not the provinces.

The law 6959 of the Province of Mendoza stipulated in article 1 that "the Ministry of Production, Technology and Innovation through the Provincial Farming Directory will execute the taxation of the federal transit of dairy products complying with the norms of the Argentine Food Code." Article 3 states that for each kilogram of product that is inspected a tax of 0.05 cents should be paid before the food is inspected and previous the commercialization of the product.

The Supreme Court held that the Province of Mendoza violated the federal organisms -ANMAT and SENASA - that were created specifically for the exercise of police power in food control and made traders to comply requirements that were incompatible with the National Constitution, creating a interior custom in the country which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution. This was created to avoid a double cost to the merchants and to avoid obstacles to the inter-provincial commerce. Therefore, the Supreme Court admitted the suit and declared the unconstitutionality of articles 1 and 3 of law 6959 of the Province of Mendoza.