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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]