On 18 April 2016, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") released the public versions of (i) its decision and (ii) its decision on administrative appeal in the prefabricated garage manufacturers case. In the decision on administrative appeal, the ACM clarified that a party cannot object to a fine imposed on another addressee of the decision, because it does not qualify as an "interested party" for that part of the decision.
In the decision, the ACM found that two parties active on the Dutch market, Rekers Betonwerk ("Rekers") and Juwel Betonbauteile ("Juwel"), had concluded anticompetitive agreements. According to the ACM, they had shared customers and concluded price-fixing agreements. Rekers had notified the ACM of the cartel and was therefore granted full leniency. It thus received a 100% fine reduction. Juwel received a fine of EUR 306,500.
Juwel subsequently objected to both the fact that is was held liable for the infringement and the fact that Rekers was granted a 100% fine reduction. In its decision on administrative appeal, the ACM rejected all of Juwel's grounds of objection and upheld the original decision. Most interestingly, the ACM decided that Juwel's request for revoking Rekers' 100% fine reduction was inadmissible.
In that respect, the ACM noted that all parties formally receive separate decisions. These decisions are identical with regard to the content, but they differ in legal effect. In this particular case, the decision addressed to Juwel imposed a fine on Juwel, while the decision addressed to Rekers granted Rekers a 100% fine reduction. Parties only qualify as an "interested party" to a decision that is addressed to them. Therefore, Juwel was not an "interested party" with regard to the ACM decision granting Rekers a fine reduction. Additionally, the ACM concluded that Juwel lacked a material interest in the determination of the fine reduction granted to Rekers. Even if Juwel's request had been granted, this would only have resulted in Rekers receiving a lower fine reduction.
This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of May 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:
1. Commission reduced EURIBOR cartel fine imposed on Société Générale by EUR 218 million
2. Commission publishes commitments offered by Paramount Pictures in pay-TV investigation