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Amsterdam District Court ruled that EU Commission is best placed to decide on disclosure of its cartel decisions

Amsterdam District Court ruled that EU Commission is best placed to decide on disclosure of its cartel decisions

Amsterdam District Court ruled that EU Commission is best placed to decide on disclosure of its cartel decisions

01.04.2015 EU law

In a judgment of 27 March 2015, the District Court of Amsterdam ("District Court") dismissed claims from claim vehicle Equilib that certain addressees of the European Commission air cargo decision should disclose a confidential version of this decision and documents from files of various non-European competition authorities. The District Court furthermore ruled that claims from the airlines that would require Equilib to hand over a large amount of documents in relation to its claims were "premature".

Equilib had argued it needed the unredacted Commission decision and the other documents to substantiate further its damage claims. Equilib suggested to ring-fence the confidential version around itself and its advisors, after a redaction of references to leniency corporate statements. The airlines stated that all the necessary information could be found in the publicly available summary of the decision.

The District Court decided that Equilib had not sufficiently substantiated why it needed the information in the confidential decision and the other documents, taking into account the information already available in the summary. Furthermore, the District Court considered that on the basis of EU law, the rights of addressees as well as non-addressees of the decision should be safeguarded, which would make the redaction process of a 300 page decision an extensive, time-consuming and burdensome task. The European Commission is better equipped for this task, and its publication process has reached an advanced stage.

The District Court also rejected claims from the airlines that Equilib should hand over, among others, a large amount of transport documents or "airway bills". The District Court considered that at this stage of the proceedings it is up to Equilib to substantiate further its claims, especially with regard to the alleged damage and causal link. Equilib should detail the specific routes, flights and actions for which it seeks damages. By this substantiation of Equilib the airlines may receive the information they are looking for, which would make their claim unnecessary.

In another damage claim against the airlines, instituted by claim vehicle SCC, the District Court reached a similar conclusion with regard to the airway bills sought. The District Court furthermore decided that the appropriate time to rule on the request from the airlines to stay the proceedings, awaiting the outcome of the European proceedings against the air cargo decision, would be after the airlines submit their statement of defence.

Team

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