Complete Clarity Solicitors


Damage claims for antitrust violations

The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive on how citizens and companies can claim damages when they are victims of infringements of the EU antitrust rules, such as cartels and abuses of a dominant market position.

The proposal is set to remove a number of practical difficulties which victims frequently face when they try to receive a fair compensation for the damage they have suffered.

The EU Court of Justice has recognised the right for all victims of antitrust infringements to be compensated for the harm suffered. However, due to procedural obstacles and legal uncertainty, only few of these victims actually manage to obtain compensation. 

The proposal therefore sets out a number of measures that aim to facilitate damages actions:

  • National courts will have the power to order companies to disclose evidence when victims claim compensation.
  • Decisions of national competition authorities finding an infringement will automatically constitute proof before national courts of all Member States that the infringement occurred.
  • Rules on limitation periods, i.e. the period of time within which victims can bring an action for damages, will be clarified. In particular, this will ensure that victims can effectively claim damages once an infringement has been found by a competition authority.
  • The liability rules in cases where price increases due to an infringement are “passed on” along the distribution or supply chain will be clarified. In practice, this will ensure that those who suffered the harm in the end will be the ones receiving compensation.
  • Rules to facilitate consensual settlements will be put in place so as to allow a faster and less costly resolution of disputes.

The proposal fully takes into account the key role played by competition authorities (at EU or national level) to investigate, find and sanction infringements. Contrary to the US system, the proposal does not seek to leave the punishment and deterrence to private litigation. Rather, its main objective is to facilitate full and fair compensation for victims once a public authority has found and sanctioned an infringement.

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