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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Clarifying the reasonableness test in the proposed guidelines of the European Commission on the passing-on of cartel overcharges

Virtually each dispute over claims for damages resulting from an infringement of competition law includes the question of how to deal with the fact that a direct purchaser from an infringer might have passed on all or part of the illegal overcharge to its own customers and thus, directly or indirectly, even down to the […]

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