Short Reads

New Belgian Act on damage claims for competition law infringements

New Belgian Act on damage claims for competition law infringements

New Belgian Act on damage claims for competition law infringements

03.07.2017 BE law

By an Act dated 6 June 2017, Belgium transposed the European Directive regarding actions for damages for infringements of competition law. The new provisions also apply to class actions of consumers. Class actions are extended to infringements of EU competition law.

The Act entered into force on 22 June 2017, but the procedural provisions will not apply to procedures introduced before 26 December 2014.

The Act introduces inter alia the following key principles:

  • Right to full compensation: Both direct and indirect victims can seek full compensation for the harm suffered. The Act does not introduce punitive damages.
  • Rebuttable presumption that competition law infringements cause harm: The burden of proof that there is no harm has shifted to the defendant. This is equally true if an indirect customer proves the extra cost of the direct purchaser.
  • A final decision of a competition authority is irrefutable evidence of the competition law infringement: A final decision of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) or of the Court of Appeal upon appeal against the decision of the BCA proves the infringement. The same is true for a final decision of the European Commission or the final appeal decision against that decision. Final decisions rendered in other Member States constitute prima facie evidence of an infringement.
  • Possibility to order the disclosure of evidence: Judges can order the disclosure of certain – even confidential - evidence by the infringer(s) or a third party, including the BCA, subject to penalties from EUR 1000 up to EUR 10 million. An important exception exists for leniency statements and (final) settlement submissions, and particular rules apply to evidence included in the file of a Competition Authority.
  • Defendant’s right to invoke a passing-on defence: No compensation is due to the direct purchaser when the infringer can demonstrate that the overcharge was passed on to its own purchasers.
  • Joint and several liability: The victim can claim full compensation from any of the companies at fault (with a limitation for the full immunity applicant). An important exception exists for small or medium-sized enterprises and immunity recipients, which are, under certain conditions, only liable to their direct or indirect purchasers. Companies that settle damages with victims are, in principle, not liable for harm caused by non-settling co-infringers.
  • Time bar: The Act does not modify the current time bar period, but provides for an interruption during investigations or proceedings of a Competition law Authority and settlement procedures.
  • Voluntary damage payment and fines: The Act provides that a voluntary payment to victims can be taken into account by the BCA in setting the amount of the fine.

While the Belgian Act stays mainly in line with the European Damages Directive, there are some noteworthy choices and other modifications, such as the time bar period, which has not been modified, the extension of the collective damages procedure to EU infringements, the impact of voluntary payment on potential fines from the BCA, the fact that no punitive damages have been introduced and the fact that the definition of cartel and the explanation in Parliament clarifies that this also covers horizontal cartels with a vertical aspect such as hub and spoke cartels. 

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of July 2017. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. Google gets a record EUR 2.42 billion antitrust fine for its shopping service
  2. Recent European Commission merger decisions signal an increased focus on innovation
  3. ACM fines Dutch rail operator (NS) for an alleged abuse of dominance

Team

Related news

20.06.2018 NL law
Op weg naar één Europese spoorwegruimte: de aanpassing van de Nederlandse wetgeving aan het Europese recht

Articles - Het zogenaamde 'Vierde Spoorwegpakket' zal belangrijke gevolgen hebben voor de Europese spoorwegruimte. De Nederlandse regering maakt goede vaart met de aanpassing van het nationale recht aan de eisen die uit het Vierde Spoorwegpakket voortvloeien. Inmiddels is een daartoe strekkend wetsvoorstel aanhangig bij de Tweede Kamer. De vaste commissie voor Infrastructuur en Waterstaat heeft eind vorige maand het verslag van haar bevindingen ten aanzien van het wetsvoorstel uitgebracht.

Read more

01.06.2018 EU law
European Court of Justice rules EY did not violate stand-still obligation in Danish merger

Short Reads - On 31 May 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that Ernst & Young (EY) did not illegally implement the acquisition of KPMG Denmark (KPMG DK) before obtaining antitrust clearance.  Following the announcement of the transaction, KPMG DK terminated a cooperation agreement. According to the Court, that act cannot be regarded as a violation of the stand-still obligation since it did not contribute to the change of control of the target undertaking.

Read more

20.06.2018 NL law
Naar een volwaardig recht op toegang tot de rechter en een eerlijk proces onder het EVRM?

Articles - Het recht op een toegang tot de rechter en een eerlijk proces van artikel 6 EVRM is één van de hoekstenen van dit verdrag. Naast strafzaken en zaken over bestuurlijke boetes vallen de meeste andere geschillen onder het toepassingsbereik van deze bepaling. Dit omdat er volgens de autonome Straatsburgse uitleg al snel sprake is van een geschil over de vaststelling van ‘civil rights and obligations’ als bedoeld in artikel 6 EVRM.

Read more

05.06.2018 EU law
New EU rules to reduce marine pollution

Articles - Plastic pollution has become a key environmental concern. And it is not surprising why: according to a recent study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics that have been produced so far, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of this plastic waste, 79% is accumulating either in landfill sites or in the oceans. Therefore, on 28 May 2018 the EU Commission issued a new draft Directive aimed at tackling marine litter by addressing single use plastic items and abandoned fishing gear.

Read more

Our website uses cookies: third party analytics cookies to best adapt our website to your needs & cookies to enable social media functionalities. For more information on the use of cookies, please check our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Please note that you can change your cookie opt-ins at any time via your browser settings.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring