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A proposed Directive that will help individuals and companies claim damages if they are victims of infringements of EU antitrust rules, such as cartels and abuses of dominant market positions, has recently received the backing of the European Parliament.

The Directive is based on a proposal by the European Commission and aims to remove a number of practical difficulties that victims frequently face when they try to obtain compensation for the harm they have suffered.

In particular, it will give victims easier access to evidence they need to prove the damage and more time to make their claims. At the same time it will ensure that the effectiveness of the tools used by competition authorities to enforce antitrust rules, in particular leniency and settlement programmes, is preserved.

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

The situation is further complicated by widely diverging national rules, which mean that the chances of victims to obtain compensation greatly depend on which Member State they happen to live in.

These are the types of obstacles that the proposed Directive aims to remove. Now that it has been backed by the Parliament, the Directive needs approval by the Council to complete the legislative procedure. Once the Directive has been officially adopted, Member States will have two years to implement the provisions in their legal systems.

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