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

30.04.2019 EU law
Climate goals and energy targets: legal perspectives

Seminar - On Tuesday April 30th, Stibbe organizes a seminar on climate goals and energy targets. Climate change has incited different international and supranational institutions to issue climate goals and renewable energy targets. Both the UN and the EU have led this movement with various legal instruments.

Read more

21.03.2019 NL law
15 aspects of Brexit you did not know

Short Reads - A Brexit without a deal, or with a deal that does not cover all relevant aspects, is still a potential scenario. We have highlighted a number of unexpected legal consequences of Brexit in such a no deal or incomplete deal scenario.

Read more

15.03.2019 EU law
European Court of Justice issues landmark ruling on parental liability

Short Reads - On 14 March the European Court of Justice issued a landmark judgment in the Skanska case. In this ruling, the Court of Justice held that parent companies can be held liable for the damage caused by a competition infringement committed by their subsidiary if the parent company (that holds all the shares in the subsidiary) has dissolved the subsidiary but continued its economic activity.

Read more

01.03.2019 NL law
Does selling a phone on an online marketplace make you a "trader" under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive?

Short Reads - Online marketplaces provide sales channels not only for professional traders but also for individuals selling second-hand goods. For buyers, online advertisements do not always make it clear whether the seller is a professional trader or an individual. This distinction is important because consumers buying from a professional trader can benefit from EU consumer laws, while these protections do not apply in consumer-to-consumer sales.

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