Category Archives: Competition

Horizontal Agreements and Cartels in EU Competition Law: Shameless Self Promotion

Here’s some shameless self promotion !

Maria and I contributed to a terrific and rather unusual new book which is just out entitled “Horizontal Agreements and Cartels in EU Competition Law”, edited by good friends Frank Wijckmans and Filip Tuytschaever. The book is beautifully published by Oxford University Press.

Look at the publisher’s web page for more information.

The book is unusual, unique even, because each chapter is divided into two parts. A first part is written by a private practitioner and a second part is written by a public enforcer. In that way, the reader gets two different perspectives nourished by the experience of both.

Chapter 7, on judicial review, is written by Dirk Arts – he provides the practitioner’s perspective – and, yes ! Maria and myself, who provide the enforcer’s perspective. It will leave you breathless !

Here’s the table of contents:

1: Typology and Proof of Cartels
2: Detection of Cartels
3: Investigation of Cartels
4: Procedure Before the Commission
5: Public Sanctions
6: Liability
7: Judicial Review
8: Private Enforcement
9: Block Exemption Regulations R&D and Specialization
10: Other Horizontal Agreements (I): Joint Purchasing, Joint Selling, Standardization
11: Other Horizontal Agreements (II): Information Exchanges

Go out and buy it ! (All royalties are donated to charity).

Case C-286/13 P Dole Food Co. v Commission: Bananas cartel, exchange of information and restriction by object

There’s a lot in the Court of Justice’s judgment of 19 March 2015 in Case C-286/13 P Dole Food Company and Dole Fresh Fruit Europe v Commission, EU:C:2015:184. There are some neat procedural points, interesting things on the calculation of competition fines and quite a section on what constitutes a restriction of competition “by object”.

It will take several posts to cover all those points so I’ll just deal with the substantive, “restriction by object” point.

A while ago on 16 September 2014, Maria wrote a post on  Case C- 67/13 P Groupement des cartes bancaires (“CB”) v European Commission. Many wondered whether that judgment would substantially change the understanding of restrictions of competition “by object” and “by effect”. A look at the Court’s judgment in Case C-286/13 P leads to the conclusion that rumours of a substantial change are either premature or unfounded.

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Joined Cases T-539/12 and T-150/13 Ziegler v Commission: Damages for a cartel decision

Here’s another twist in the saga of the removal services case. And rather a cheeky one too ! Two undertakings that the Commission found in its decision to have participated in an illicit cartel in breach of Article 101 TFEU sued the Commission in damages …. for adopting that decision ! In its judgment of 15 January 2015 in Joined Cases T-539/12 and T-150/13 Ziegler SA and Ziegler Relocation SA, EU:T:2015:15 the General Court dismissed the claim.

Here’s the story.  Continue reading

Case T-355/13 easyJet Airline Co. Ltd. v Commission: Complaints, Abuse and National Competition Authority

The judgment of the General Court of 21 January 2015 in EasyJet Airline Co. Ltd. v Commission, T-355/13, EU:T:2015:36, contains some interesting things about:

  • the Commission’s discretion to reject complains about breaches of the competition rules and judicial review of that discretion on the one hand and how the Commission and
  • how national competition authorities interact in the framework of the “European Competition Network” on the other.

A few facts first.

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Case T-479/14 Kendrion v EU (Court of Justice): Damages, duration of judicial proceedings, appropriate defendant.

The General Court handed down an order recently in Case T-479/14 Kendrion NV v EU represented by the Court of Justice, EU:T:2015:2. It finds that the Court of Justice is the right defendant in an action for damages in a claim for compensation for the loss and damage caused by unreasonable delay in judicial proceedings in the General Court.

A rich and spicy situation ! The General Court dismissing an inadmissibility plea by the Court of Justice.

Here’s some explanation and background how such a situation can arise.

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Case C-470/13 Generali: Public procurement, exclusion for a previous breach of competition rules

Can an undertaking which has breached national competition law in the past be excluded from a public tendering procedure ?

Yes, answers the Court of Justice in its recent judgment in Generali-Providencia Biztositò Zrt, Case C-470/13, EU:C:2014:2469.

That is an interesting enough point, of course. The judgment is also of interest because the Court seems to take a softer line than usual concerning the admissibility of the question and the lack of cross-border interest in the case as present by the national court.

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Case C-413/13 FNV Kunsten Informatie en Media Case: Limits of competition law, collective agreements and the self-employed

The Court of Justice’s recent judgment in FNV Kunsten Informatie en Media Case v Staat der Nederland C-413/13 EU:C:2014:2411 is the latest in a line of cases that exclude collective agreements from the application of EU competition law and in particular from Article 101(1) TFEU.

In this case, there was a rather peculiar twist in the facts which lead the Court to adopt a cautious approach. It led the Court to distinguish between “workers”, “self employed” persons who are usually considered to be “undertakings” and “false self employed” who are more like workers.

A trade union representing musicians negotiated a collective agreement with an organisation representing orchestras in the Netherlands.  Not only were salaried, employee musicians covered by the agreement, but it was negotiated on behalf of independent, self employed musicians also. Thus the Court was faced with the question whether a provision of a collective labour agreement, which sets minimum fees for self-employed service providers who are members of one of the contracting employees’ organisations and perform for an employer, under a works or service contract, the same activity as that employer’s employed workers, does not fall within the scope of Article 101(1) TFEU.

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C-580/12 P Guardian Industries: Reduction of competition fine on appeal

The judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 November 2014 in Guardian Industries Corp and Guardian Europe Sarl v Commission, C-580/12 P, EU:C:2014:2363, is a rare instance of the Court of Justice on appeal reducing the amount of a fine imposed for the breach of the competition rules that had been upheld at first instance by the General Court. Continue reading

Case C-302/13 flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines: Damages for breach of competition law, civil and commercial matters

In its recent judgment of 23 October 2014 in flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines AS in liquidation v Starptautiskā lidosta Rīga VAS, Air Baltic Corporation AS, C-302/13, EU:C:2014:2319, the Court of Justice confirmed that actions brought by undertakings seeking redress or compensation for damage resulting from alleged infringements of EU competition law, come within the definition of ‘civil and commercial matters’ within the meaning of Article 1(1) of Regulation No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ 2001 L 12, p. 1).

Thus such actions, whether they are “follow on” or stand alone actions, are subject to the rules on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement contained in Regulation No 44/2001. Continue reading

Case C-408/12 P YKK Corporation and others v Commission: Calculation of competition fine, 10% legal ceiling and parent-subsidiary liability

The Court of Justice does not often interfere, on appeal, with the way fines for competition cases are calculated and scrutinised by the General Court. It will do so, however, if an error of law is made, for example.

In Case C-408/12 P YKK Corporation and others v Commission  EU:C:2014:66 the Court of Justice did find an error and it did readjust the amount of the fine imposed on a company for infringing the competition rules. Here’s what happened….

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