Short Reads

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

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

Related news

24.09.2020 BE law
Stibbe hosts a webinar on dawn raids organised by IBJ/IJE

Seminar - On 24 September 2020, several Stibbe lawyers ​​​​​explain the rights and obligations of companies when confronted with announced or unannounced raids. What do to when, for example, tax authorities, the competition authorities, police services or a bailiff are at your doorstep?

Read more

03.09.2020 NL law
Home, but not alone: Commission may complete dawn raids from home

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected Nexans’ appeal in the power cables cartel case. The Commission started the dawn raid at Nexans’ premises, but due to lack of time finished the raid at the Commission’s premises in Brussels. The ECJ found that the Commission can copy data and assess its relevance to the investigation at its own premises, while safeguarding companies’ rights of defence.

Read more

03.09.2020 NL law
COVID-19 impacts level and payment of antitrust fines

Short Reads - As well as granting companies leeway on certain COVID-19 initiated collaborations (see our May 2020 newsletter), the coronavirus outbreak has also led competition authorities to take a more lenient stance towards fine calculations and payments. The European Commission has extended the due date for fine payments by an additional three months in response to potential short-term liquidity issues brought about by the pandemic. Similar reasons led the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeal Tribunal to reduce a EUR 1 million cartel fine to just EUR 10,000.

Read more

02.07.2020 NL law
European Commission to pull the strings of foreign subsidies

Short Reads - The European Commission is adding powers to its toolbox to ensure a level playing field between European and foreign(-backed) companies active on the EU market. On top of merger control and Foreign Direct Investment screening obligations, companies may also need to account for future rules allowing scrutiny of subsidies granted by non-EU governments if those subsidies might distort the EU Single Market.

Read more

03.09.2020 NL law
The ACM’s Green Deal: achieving sustainability via competition law?

Short Reads - The ACM has issued draft guidelines on the application of competition law to sustainability agreements. Companies entering into agreements that restrict competition but contribute to governmental sustainability objectives – i.e. lower CO2 emissions – may expect more room for collaboration. The proposed framework would allow these types of agreements if their anti-competitive effects are outweighed by their environmental benefits to society as a whole (rather than to in-market consumers only, as under the existing framework).

Read more