Articles

General Court dismissed action by Uralita in the Sodium Chlorate cartel

General Court dismissed action by Uralita in the Sodium Chlorate cartel

General Court dismissed action by Uralita in the Sodium Chlorate cartel

03.11.2015 NL law

On 6 October 2015, the General Court ("GC") dismissed an application brought by Corporación Empresarial de Materiales de Construcción (formerly known as "Uralita") for annulment of a Commission Decision in the Sodium Chlorate cartel. The GC rejected Uralita's claim that the Commission did not adhere to the applicable time-limits. More specifically, the GC found that the Commission's decision to grant conditional immunity to an undertaking constitutes an act that will interrupt the five-year limitation period in Article 25(1) Regulation 1/2003 for all cartel participants.

On 11 June 2008, the Commission adopted a decision against Uralita and its (former) wholly-owned subsidiary ("Aragonesas") for an infringement in the sodium chlorate sector between 1996 and 2000. Aragonesas and Uralita independently challenged the Commission Decision before the GC. On 25 October 2011, the GC partially granted Aragonesas' action, reducing the infringement period, limiting it to 28 January 1998 - 31 December 1998 and adjusting the fine accordingly. Uralita's action for annulment, however, was dismissed in its entirety. 

On 27 March 2012, acting on its own initiative, the Commission adopted an amending decision in order to bring the infringement period and the fine attributed to Uralita as the parent company of Aragonesas in line with the judgment in Aragonesas. Subsequently, Uralita challenged the amending decision before the GC, claiming that the Commission was time-barred from imposing a new fine in the amending decision. According to Uralita, the Commission relied on  a request for information in 2004 as the first action that interrupted the applicable five-year limitation period in the 2008 decision. In light of the shorter infringement period imputed to it now, the five-year limitation period would have started to run in 1998 and ended in 2003 (i.e. before the first interruption action took place).

The GC dismissed Uralita's argument. It ruled that the amending decision did not impose a new fine but had "the purpose and effect of maintaining in part the fine initially imposed on the applicant in the 2008 decision". As a result, account should be taken of the date of the initial decision and not the date of the amending decision in assessing the alleged violation of the time-limits. The GC concluded that the five-year limitation period did not prevent the Commission from imposing a fine on Uralita in this case. The applicable limitation period had been interrupted when the Commission granted conditional immunity to another undertaking in 2003. This action interrupted the limitation periods for all participants in the cartel.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of November 2015. Other articles in this newsletter:

Back to top

Team

Related news

04.04.2022 EU law
ACM jumps on gun-jumping bandwagon

Short Reads - Companies involved in multi-step acquisitions should beware of potential gun-jumping risks. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined a trade association for failing to notify the acquisition of four pharmacies involving a consecutive partial resale. Unlike the European Commission’s gun-jumping fine for partial implementation of a concentration through a ‘warehousing’ two-step acquisition (see our July 2019 newsletter; appeal pending), the ACM’s fine relates to faulty turnover calculations due to an unmaterialized two-step transaction.

Read more

05.04.2022 NL law
Game on for gatekeepers: Digital Markets Act finalised

Short Reads - Now that political agreement has been reached on the final text, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will enter into force soon. The DMA’s ex ante rules and obligations will apply next to the ad hoc EU and national competition rules. Time for big digital companies to take stock of the potential implications of these additional rules on their day-to-day business operations. See our infographic for a concise overview of the DMA.

Read more

04.04.2022 EU law
The ECN+ Directive implemented in Belgium and introduction of merger filing fees

Short Reads - On 7 March 2022, the Act implementing the ECN+ Directive into Belgian law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. The Act entered into force on 17 March 2022. Some of the key amendments include (i) the introduction of filing fees for the notification of a concentration, (ii) new fines and penalty payments (including clarifications on the leniency programme), (iii) new dawn raid powers and (iv) the introduction of a regulatory framework for mutual assistance and cooperation within the European Competition Network.

Read more

10.03.2022 EU law
De Dataverordening (“Data Act”)

Short Reads - De Europese Commissie heeft op 23 februari 2022 de Europese dataverordening (“Data Act”) voorgesteld, die het delen van data beoogt te bevorderen. Steeds meer gegevens worden door mensen en machines gegenereerd, bewaard en hergebruikt. Data en data-analyse kan een bijdrage leveren aan de efficiëntie van maatschappelijke processen, onderzoek en innovatie stimuleren en het concurrentievermogen van industrieën versterken. Veel data is echter niet vrij toegankelijk.  

Read more