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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.