Effective enforcement of cartel damage claims through the assignment model: The preliminary ruling procedure before the CJEU in Case C-253/23 (ASG) – A Comment
Following a request for a preliminary ruling from Germany, the CJEU has to assess the availability of the ‘assignment model’ to cartel victims. Private enforcement of competition law in the EU is essentially driven by actions bundling claims for damages assigned by a multitude of victims to a specialised company for joint assessment and enforcement. The question is whether limitations to the assignment model under national law can survive an assessment under EU law.
Tribunal Supremo on trucks cartel, judicial estimation after Tráficos Manuel Ferrer: Judges can estimate without prior disclosure, judicial estimate of 5% overcharge confirmed
In a bundle of 15 cassation judgments, the Tribunal Supremo, the highest civil court in Spain, rules on important questions concerning the ability of the judge to estimate the damage, the need for prior inter partes disclosure, proportionality, and standards for economic expert opinions. The Tribunal does so against the background of the European trucks cartel, the same case that prompted the preliminary ruling in Tráficos Manuel Ferrer. The Tribunal largely upholds the findings of the appellate courts and strengthens the ability of judges to estimate damage. The court also rules, among other questions, on the accrual of interest and limitation.
As of 2 May 2023, the DMA provisions started to be applied as an innovative ex-ante regulation targeting ‘gatekeepers’ in the digital market. Provided that private enforcement plays a central role in the effective application of the DMA, this article provides significant insights in this regard. In the absence of a harmonization act like the EU Antitrust Damages Directive, key principles rooted in EU law and CJEU case law, together with rules progressively proposed under national law for the protection of individual rights of platform users, represent the current state of DMA private enforcement, paving the way for the future.
This article explores the complexities surrounding the quantification of damages and the issue of data asymmetry in private antitrust damage actions in Europe. It delves into the challenges claimants face in quantifying the actual harm caused by anticompetitive behaviour. The article also discusses the role of disclosure rules in promoting fair access to evidence and proposes potential solutions to mitigate the information disparity between claimants and defendants.
Shortly after the publication of the Tráficos Manuel Ferrer judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in response to a request for a preliminary ruling (16 February 2023), the judge from the Valencia court who had referred the questions to the CJEU delivered his judgment in the same case (10 March 2023). This blog post analyses the key points of the Valencia court judgment concerning economic expert reports.
Connor and Lande data: median recovery rates suggest that cartel effects can be five times higher than cartel fines
Many cartels remain undetected by competition authorities. Even if detected, the estimated negative effects of price-fixing cartels on prices can be five times larger than the fines imposed by the authorities. That is, the level of fines is suboptimal. The analysis is based on the dataset of Connor and Lande. It partially contradicts the results of a recent study that suggests effective recovery of cartel injuries when cartels are discovered.
German Federal Court of Justice confirms factual assumption of harm in case of anticompetitive information exchanges and clarifies scope of liability in multi-product cartels
On 5 January 2023, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) published an important judgment in relation to follow-on damage actions relating to the so-called German drugstore products cartel (Case KZR 42/20). In its ruling, Germany’s highest civil court also confirmed a factual presumption of harm in the case of anticompetitive information exchanges. This is an important clarification as the BGH had thus far only acknowledged such factual presumption in cases of price-fixing and market-sharing practices. In addition, the BGH clarified that cartel participants are jointly and severally liable for damages caused in relation to products they do not manufacture themselves if they were aware that the anticompetitive practices extended to the other products.
Trucks cartel: Portuguese competition court grants a 15.4% compensation and applies its national law in line with recent EU case law
On 6 November 2022, the Portuguese Competition, Regulation and Supervision Court of Santarém rendered a key judgment in relation to damages proceedings against participants in the European Trucks Cartel. The Court addressed key points, such as the standard of proof, limitation periods, and net price effects in a comprehensive EU case law state of play-based interpretation of national law. Granting the 15.4% overcharge identified in the claimant’s expert report and rejecting the defendant’s “no damage” argumentation, this judgment will have a positive impact beyond the Trucks Cartel case.
Trucks cartel: New CJEU landmark judgement empowers victims of antitrust infringements with the right to request ex novo documents, created by the defendants (C-163/21, PACCAR e.a.)
On 10 November 2022, the EU Court of Justice rendered another key judgment in relation to the series of damages proceedings brought in Spain against participants in the European Trucks Cartel. This judgment on the interpretation of Art. 5(1) of the Damages Directive clarifies the wide scope of evidence to which claimants can request access to substantiate potential damages claims. The judgment further strengthens the effectiveness of private enforcement of EU competition rules and should have a positive impact on the whole wave of compensation claims against truck manufacturers in Europe.
Trucks cartel: District Court of Amsterdam confirms the possibility for entities to bundle multiple damage claims in one action and applies uniformly Dutch law to those claims
On 27 July 2022, the District Court of Amsterdam delivered an important judgment in which it confirmed previous case law of Dutch courts on the validity of the ‘assignment model’, by which entities, such as CDC, effectively bundle multiple damage claims in one single action. The judgment is in line with EU law, in particular the principle of effectiveness. By choosing Dutch law as the law applicable to all damage claims, the Court has provided an effective solution for victims of competition law infringements.
Assessing the compatibility of seemingly contradictory statistical evidence in the case of damage estimations (reflections on the article written by Peter Bönisch and Roman Inderst)
In a recent publication, Peter Bönisch and Roman Inderst tackle the delicate issue of the evaluation of seemingly contradictory econometric evidence. Introducing the concept of severity measures, they propose a method to avoid the common obstacles plaguing the interpretation of seemingly conflicting empirical evidence through the practical example of financial damage estimation in follow-on cases. This blog post discusses the ideas presented in the paper.
On 1 August 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled in Case C-588/20 Daimler (Ententes – Camions à ordures ménageres) that specialised trucks are covered by the cartel found in the European Commission’s 2016 decision in Case AT.39824 Trucks. The judgment concerns the fundamental and practically relevant question of how to identify the products directly affected by a cartel infringement according to the decision of a competition authority, which in this respect is binding for the civil courts in a follow-on action for damages. As a result, the right of injured parties to access the Statement of Objections sent by that authority to the cartelists prior to the adoption of the decision will gain in importance, especially if this decision has finally been adopted after a settlement.
Trucks Cartel: the Supreme Court of Norway confirms jurisdiction of the Norwegian courts for follow-on damage action based on the principles of joint and several liability and the civil liability of the ‘undertaking’
In an interesting decision the Supreme Court of Norway confirms jurisdiction of the Norwegian courts for a follow-on damage action based on the principles of joint and several liability and the civil liability of the ‘undertaking’.
CJEU clarifies the temporal application of the new EU Damages Directive’s five-year limitation in cartel cases
In its landmark judgment of 22 June 2022 in Case C-267/20 – Volvo and DAF Trucks, the CJEU confirmed that the five-year limitation period under the EU Damages Directive on antitrust damages applies to all cartel damages claims which at the time of the transposition of the Directive into national law were not yet time barred. Equally, the Court stresses that neither the burden nor the standard of proof for the quantification of competition damages must be too high, and that national courts can estimate the amount of cartel damages where the action was brought after 26 December 2014. The judgment provides much awaited legal certainty for many cases in which the temporal application of the new limitation period and the quantification of damages under the Directive is at the heart of the debate.
German Federal Court of Justice confirms the claims assignment model in the Diesel emission case (and beyond)
On 13 June 2022, the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) held that the claims assignment model (Sammelklage-Inkasso) is admissible for Swiss purchasers in the so-called Diesel scandal (see the Bundesgerichtshof’s press release of the same day). The decision is a further step after the landmark AirDeal judgment last year, in which the Bundesgerichtshof fundamentally acknowledged the collective opt-in assignment model, i.e. the transfer of claims for damages of numerous victims of the same infringement to a specialised third party for the purpose of bundling and joint enforcement of all claims. This approach from a procedural economy perspective has become increasingly important all over Europe in recent years, especially in competition law cases. In its Diesel emission case, the Bundesgerichtshof now confirms that the model is also open to purchasers from Switzerland.
Trucks cartel: AG Szpunar clarifies the application of Article 5 of the EU Damages Directive to documents to be created ex novo
On April 7, 2022, AG Szpunar delivered its opinion in the context of a request for a preliminary ruling made by the Commercial Court 7 of Barcelona to the CJEU concerning, i.a, the interpretation of Article 5(1) of Directive 2014/104/EU on the disclosure inter partes of evidence.
Suppose that in 2002, a cartel caused EUR 1,000 in damages to a victim. Is the victim 20 years later entitled to only EUR 1,000? Of course not. The amount must be adjusted for interest. EU law is clear on this point, along with the requirement that interest must accrue as of the time the damage occurred. Other modalities, however, are left to national laws. When working out interest in any concrete case, several common issues should be considered. The following attempts to foster systematic treatment of this interesting (sic!) topic.
General Court entirely dismisses Scania’s appeal and confirms Scania’s participation in the Truck Cartel
On 2 February 2022, the General Court of the European Union rendered its judgment in the Case T-799/17, Scania and Others v Commission. The Court dismissed in its entirety the appeal brought by Scania AB, Scania CV AB, and Scania Deutschland GmbH, against the decision of the European Commission of 27 September 2017 in Case AT.39824 – Trucks imposing a fine of EUR 880 million on Scania for its participation in the European Trucks Cartel. The General Court confirmed Scania’s involvement in the single and continuous infringement and rejected all arguments presented by Scania.
The Spanish Competition Authority (CNMC) plans to support judges by developing guidelines on quantifying damages caused by competition law infringements. The CNMC held a public consultation on the draft version of these guidelines. The contributions were published on the CNMC’s website, including ours. While the issues we picked up were partially addressed by the draft guidelines, we believe they merit further elaboration.
AG Rantos delivers a halfway opinion on the temporal application of the EU Antitrust Damages Directive (C-267/20, AB Volvo, DAF TRUCKS NV / RM)
In his opinion of 28 October 2021, Advocate General Rantos confirmed that the nature of the rules implementing the EU Damages Directive is determined by EU law and not by national law. The Advocate General states that the provisions on limitations and presumption of cartel-related harm are substantive. In contrast, the possibility for national judges to estimate the amount of harm is a procedural provision. Moreover, AG Rantos considers that pre-Directive knowledge-based limitation periods applied to cartel damage claims could reasonably begin with the publication of a fining decision’s multilingual summary.
Sumal v Mercedes Benz: CJEU confirms civil liability of a subsidiary for the participation of its parent company in a competition law infringement
On 6 October 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered its judgment in Case C-882/19, Sumal SL v Mercedes Benz Trucks España SL. Following the Opinion of Advocate General Pitruzzella, the CJEU has confirmed that, under certain conditions, a subsidiary which is not the addressee of the administrative decision can be held liable for the damages caused by the infringement for which the parent company has been fined.
This article continues the series on private enforcement in the Netherlands. New collective actions regime On 1 January 2020 the new collective actions regime in the Netherlands entered into force. Under the new regime, representative bodies can bring collective damage actions for monetary compensation including for damages caused by cartels and other anticompetitive conduct. Collective
On 22 June 2021, the European Commission confirmed the opening of a formal antitrust investigation into whether Google previously abused or is currently abusing its dominant position in the online intermediation of programmatic display advertising business. Prior to the Commission’s announcement, the French Competition Authority (FCA) had already handed down a decision on 7 July 2021, including a EUR 220 million fine, finding that Google breached Article 102 TFEU and the French Competition Act in the same advertisement sector.
First Italian judgment awarding damages against the European trucks cartel (Naples “Diego Armando Maradona” Stadium: Salernitana 1 – Juventus 0)
The trucks cartel fined by the European Commission in 2016 and 2017 triggered a wave of follow-on damage actions throughout the entire European Union. In Italy, after several legal actions having been launched by logistics associations and transport companies against the six sanctioned manufacturers, the Chamber of the Naples District Court specialised in business matters rendered the first judgment awarding damages in 2021.
Revival of the ‘claims assignment class action’ in German private antitrust enforcement (and beyond)
Corporate victims of anticompetitive practices by their suppliers regularly consider their possibilities to exercise their rights in the best interest of their company. On 13 July 2021, the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) held that the ‘class action collection’ (Sammelklage-Inkasso) is permissible. Correcting a contrary trend followed by lower courts, the landmark AirDeal judgment of Germany’s supreme court fundamentally confirms the legality of the opt-in ‘assignment model’, i.e. the contractual transfer of claims for damages of numerous victims of the same infringement to a specialised third party for the purpose of bundling, analysis, and joint enforcement of these claims. This approach from a procedural economy perspective has become increasingly important all over Europe in recent years, especially for private antitrust cases due to a lack of effective collective redress mechanisms. In Germany, it has also been approved by a current reform of statutory law.
Trucks cartel: AG Pitruzzella’s opinion on civil liability of subsidiaries for competition law infringements of the undertaking
On 15 April 2021 the CJEU’s Advocate General (AG) Pitruzzella handed down his opinion in the preliminary ruling procedure relating to the Trucks cartel litigation in Spain. The Barcelona Provincial Court (‘Barcelona Court’) requested the CJEU to interpret EU law on the question of whether a subsidiary company is liable for damages where the Commission has only fined the parent company for anticompetitive behavior. The AG in Case C-882/19 takes the view that, subject to conditions, a subsidiary without being addressee of the cartel decision can be held liable for the damages caused by the infringement. The Opinion, when confirmed by the CJEU, has as well implications on the question of where victims of Europe-wide cartel behavour might bring claims for damages.
Air Cargo Cartel: Application of Art. 101 TFEU in damage actions by national courts (Netherlands: 1 – England: 0)
On 6 May 2021 the CJEU published the opinion by AG Bobek in Case C‑819/19 Stichting Cartel Compensation and Equilib Netherlands BV v. KLM NV et al regarding a request for a preliminary ruling from the Rechtbank Amsterdam. It concerns damage actions against members of the international Air Cargo cartel. The case is particularly interesting as it shows the importance of choosing the right forum for a damage action in EU-wide cartel cases and the risks if national courts do not make use of preliminary rulings that are aimed at ensuring a consistent application of EU law across all Member States. Should the CJEU follow the opinion of AG Bobek, claimants that have pursued damage claims before the Amsterdam Court will have good chances to obtain compensation for the entire duration of the cartel from 1999 to 2006, while claimants before the High Court of England and Wales saw their damage claims significantly reduced to the period between 2004 and 2006.
Si une multitude d’actions en réparation sont régulièrement déposées devant les juridictions de divers pays de l’Union européenne en rapport avec l’article 101 TFUE (pensez, par exemple, à l’abondance des litiges contre les constructeurs de camions), il n’en va pas encore de même pour les affaires d’abus de position dominante. Bien que la Directive régissant
Paris Court of Appeal provides guidance on damage estimation in competition law cases and awards EUR 250 million in damages
Orange Caraïbe et al. vs Digicel Antilles Françaises Guyane On 17 June 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal (Court) delivered its judgment (Orange judgment) in which it ordered Orange to pay EUR 249.5 million (EUR 181.5 million in damages plus EUR 68 million in interest) to Digicel Antilles and Guyana, following the implementation by the
By judgment of 14 January 2021 in Case C-450/19, Kilpailu- ja kuluttajavirasto (‘Judgment’), the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) stated that an infringement of Art. 101 TFEU in bid-rigging cases ends with the conclusion of the works, goods or services contract, even if the damage occurs at a later stage. To reach
Trucks Cartel: German Supreme Court confirms the binding effect of settlement decisions and the presumption of damages
By judgment of 23 September 2020 (KZR 35/19, translation into English) the German Federal Court of Justice (‘Bundesgerichtshof’, ‘BGH’) provides detailed guidance on legal principles and standards of proof regarding several key aspects of actions for damages resulting from the European trucks cartel. The Bundesgerichtshof confirms that the scope of the infringement established in the
Beyond ORWI: German Supreme Court continues clarifying the ‘passing-on defence’ in cartel damages cases
Cartel members sued for damages regularly invoke as a defence that the plaintiff passed on the overcharge resulting from their unlawful behaviour to its own customers (the ‘indirect purchasers’) and was hence not entitled to claim damages for it. In the well-known ORWI judgment of 28 June 2011 (KZR 75/10), the Federal Court of Justice
While a plethora of damages claims are regularly filed in front of jurisdictions in various countries of the European Union related to Article 101 TFEU (think, for example, the abundance of litigation against truck manufacturers), the same is not yet true for abuse of dominance cases. Notwithstanding that the Damages Directive is equally applicable to
Full steam ahead: German Supreme Court provides further guidance on ‘umbrella claims’ and the ‘passing-on defence’
Are there no public benefits from a hardcore cartel? The German Rails Cartel, at least, continues to contribute to the general development of private claims for damages resulting from an infringement of the EU cartel prohibition (Article 101 TFEU) and its national equivalent. From this perspective, it supports consumers, by promoting legal certainty for an
Spanish Trucks Cartel Litigation: Temporal application of EU Damages Directive provisions on limitation and quantification of harm
In the aftermath of Directive 2014/104/EU (Directive), Spain appears to be one of the most active jurisdictions dealing with antitrust damages cases. In particular, a multitude of Spanish courts have been seized with actions for compensation in relation to the European Trucks Cartel (Case AT.39824-Trucks). In that context, preliminary ruling requests were addressed by Spanish
On 17 June 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal (hereinafter the “Court”) handed down its judgment (hereinafter the “Orange ruling”) in which it ordered Orange to pay EUR 249.5 million (EUR 181.5 million in damages plus EUR 68 million in interest) to the telecom operator Digicel for anti-competitive practices implemented in the West Indies in the early
Under EU law, State aids are in principle prohibited unless authorised by the European Commission. In cases where Member States grant a State aid to an undertaking without obtaining the prior authorization of the European Commission, competitors of the beneficiary of this unlawful State Aid may obtain damages for the financial harm they may suffer
German Supreme Court provides guidance on applicable law and standards of proof for causality and damage quantification in follow-on damage actions in light of recent CJEU case law
On 29 May 2020 the German Supreme Court (‘Bundesgerichtshof’) published two judgments (KZR 23/17 and KZR 25/17) in which it provides detailed guidance on the legal principles and the standard of proof to be applied for the substantiation of damages in follow-on damage actions in the light of EU law principles. These judgments are of wide interest
In a request for a preliminary ruling, the Barcelona Provincial Court asks the EU Court of Justice which legal entities within the undertaking are liable for the damages caused by an infringement of Art. 101 TFEU. Is this liability limited to the addressees of the fining decision or could in principle every legal entity that
Does Art. 7(2) Brussels I bis determine territorial jurisdiction within the EU Member States, Madrid Commercial Court asks EU Court of Justice. The request for a preliminary ruling from the Madrid Commercial Court might seem trivial or easy to answer given the recent case law by the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’).
Amsterdam Court of Appeal applies Cogeco principles on limitation periods and confirms validity of assignments in Sodium Chlorate cartel case
Introduction On 4 February 2020 the Amsterdam Court of Appeal in a landmark judgment ruled that the claims brought by CDC against Kemira Chemicals Oy (‘Kemira Chemicals’) under Finnish, Swedish and Spanish law are not time-barred. The Court of Appeal is the first national appeals court to apply the Cogeco principles on limitation periods as formulated in 2019 by
This article is the first in a series on private enforcement in the Netherlands. Introduction Over the past 10 years the Netherlands has established itself as one of the key jurisdictions for private damage actions in the field of competition law in the EU. Claimants have brought multiple follow-on actions, mainly relating to pan-European cartel
On 28 March 2019 in Case Cogeco C‑637/17 the CJEU provided guidance on the application ratione temporis of the EU Damages Directive 2014/104/EU (Directive) and stressed the importance of the principle of effectiveness for damages actions for breaches of EU competition law. The CJEU confirmed that a case-by-case analysis is required in order to assess whether the Directive is
CJEU confirms the right of all cartel victims to obtain redress in Elevators and Escalators cartel case
Introduction The year 2019 was marked by a number of landmark judgements of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) in the field of private enforcement such as Skanska, Cogeco and Tibor-Trans. On 12 December 2019 the CJEU rendered its judgement in Case-435/18, Otis Geselschaft m.b.H. e.a., (Austrian Elevators and Escalators). Following the Opinion of Advocate General (‘AG’) Kokott, it
An extract from GCR’s Private Litigation Guide – First Edition. The whole publication is available to purchase on GCR’s website. Private enforcement of competition law in Europe has in the past decade been driven in large part by the aggregation and enforcement of damages claims brought by multiple companies affected by the same competition law infringement
In 1977, Spain celebrated its first democratic elections in the aftermath of the transition from dictatorship to full democracy. The leading five paper envelope producers used the occasion to create and establish one of the most harmful cartels in Spanish Public Procurement history. Before the elections took place, the transition government were required to buy
Introduction Advocate General (AG) Kokott is one of the most influential and experienced members of the European Union’s judiciary. Recently, she handed down a landmark opinion in relation to the Austrian Elevators and Escalators cartel damages case on the scope of damages claims that can be brought by claimants. The key issue in Austrian Elevators and Escalators revolved around
Landmark judgment by the EU Court of Justice on the interpretation of the place of harmful event under Regulation Brussels I bis for the determination of alternative grounds of jurisdiction in pan-European cartel damages cases
With its judgment of 29 July 2019 in Case C-451/18, Tibor-Trans (‘Judgment’), the EU Court of Justice (‘CJEU’) clarified the competence of national courts to hear damage actions relating to pan-European infringements of Art. 101 TFEU under Regulation 1215/2012 Brussels I bis (in short ‘Brussels I bis’). The CJEU specified that victims of illegal cartels can lodge an action for
As private enforcement of competition law continues its upward trend potential claimants must consider many factors before deciding to pursue a claim for compensation against their suppliers. EU Directive 2014/104 has contributed to the increased awareness of the right to compensation across Europe and there has been a sharp surge in the number of actions being brought
EU Directive strengthens competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law
On 11 December 2018, Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market was adopted. The Directive aims to enable national competition authorities (NCAs) to be more effective enforcers of EU competition