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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 2005, Germany implemented legislation determining the suspension of limitation periods for damage claims during the investigation of a competition authority. However, since the adoption of the new provision it has been unclear whether the law applies on damage claims which arose before the entry into force of the new suspension provision (1 July 2005), […]