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.
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.
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.
Contribution to the CNMC’s public consultation on quantification of damages
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.
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.
Towards civil liability of subsidiaries non-addressees of cartel decisions (C-882/19, Sumal)
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 […]
Choice of forum delicti in EU-wide cartel damages cases (C-30/20, RH vs Volvo)
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’). […]
The Spanish paper envelopes cartel: Compensation over 40 years later
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 […]