Short Reads

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

02.01.2018 EU law
Court of The Hague confirms that the ACM can copy mobile phones during an inspection

Short Reads - On 22 November 2017, the District Court of The Hague dismissed a legal challenge that was brought against the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in preliminary relief proceedings. In the course of an inspection, the ACM had made a copy of (virtually) all data on the business mobile phones of six employees who worked for the company subject to the inspection. The Court ruled that the ACM was permitted to do so.

Read more

02.01.2018 EU law
Court of Justice: Suppliers of luxury goods may prohibit their authorised distributors from selling on third party internet platforms

Short Reads - On 6 December 2017, the Court of Justice rendered its much anticipated judgment in a dispute between a supplier of luxury cosmetics (Coty) and one of its authorised resellers. The central question was whether Coty is allowed under the competition rules to forbid its resellers to sell Coty products over third party internet platforms with visible logos (like eBay or Amazon).

Read more

19.12.2017 EU law
L’arrêté wallon portant conditions sectorielles des parcs d'éoliennes a été annulé par le Conseil d’Etat!

Articles - Trois ans et demi après avoir fait l’objet d’un recours en annulation et après un détour préjudiciel à la Cour de Justice de l’Union européenne, le Conseil d’Etat a finalement annulé l’arrêté wallon fixant les conditions sectorielles s’appliquant aux parcs éoliens. Cette décision ne créera cependant pas le séisme annoncé. Le Conseil d’Etat a, en effet, décidé de maintenir définitivement les effets de l'arrêté tant pour le passé que pendant les trois prochaines années.

Read more

02.01.2018 EU law
Court of Justice dismisses appeal by Telefónica on non-compete clause in telecoms transaction

Short Reads - On 13 December 2017, the Court of Justice dismissed the appeal brought by Telefónica against a judgment of the General Court (GC) regarding a non-compete agreement [see our July 2016 Newsletter]. The judgment confirms the finding of the GC that the non-compete clause agreed upon between Telefónica and Portugal Telecom (PT) amounted to a market sharing agreement with the object of restricting competition.

Read more

07.12.2017 BE law
Décision Inédite de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne en matière de protection de l’environnement : menace de sanctions financières pour la Pologne.

Articles - Dans son ordonnance du 20 novembre 2017, la Cour de Justice de l’Union européenne a ordonné, sous astreinte, à la Pologne de cesser immédiatement les opérations de gestion forestière active dans la forêt de Białowieża. Cette ordonnance sort de l’ordinaire parce qu’elle contient des mesures provisoires mais également parce qu’elle est assortie de sanctions financières. Ces deux aspects sont pourtant des gages de l’efficacité du contrôle de la Cour devant laquelle la procédure au fond. L’impact de cette ordonnance va donc bien au-delà du seul cas de la forêt de Białowieża en Pologne.  

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 and Cookie Policy