Short Reads

ACM lowered fines in the pepper cartel case

ACM lowered fines in the pepper cartel case

ACM lowered fines in the pepper cartel case

02.08.2016 NL law

On 18 July 2016, the Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") published a revised decision in the pepper cartel case. In 2012, the ACM imposed fines on pepper grower cooperatives and sales organisations for participating in a price-fixing cartel.

In its revised decision, the ACM lowered the fines after the Rotterdam District Court ruled that the ACM had to re-apply the fining caps. In addition, the ACM adjusted the fines in view of the parties' inability to pay.

Under the applicable fining rules, the ACM could impose fines for cartel infringements of up to EUR 450,000 or 10% of the company's annual turnover, whichever amount was higher. In its judgment, the Court confirmed that when fines are imposed on associations of undertakings, such as the pepper grower cooperatives, the ACM could impose a maximum fine of 10% of the combined annual turnover of its members. Therefore, the fine of the cooperatives should have been based on the total turnover of their pepper growing members (i.e. turnover not limited to pepper sales). The ACM corrected this in its recent decision.

Unlike the cooperatives, the ACM did not consider the sales organisations to qualify as 'associations of undertakings'. Consequently, the Court determined that when calculating the fines, the ACM should have taken into account the turnover of the sales organisations themselves rather than that of the pepper growers.

Although the fines were imposed on the cooperatives and sales organisations, the ACM took into account that the pepper growers would ultimately bear the cost of the fines. Therefore, in order to avoid double fining, the fines imposed on the cooperatives were lowered by the amounts imposed on the sales organisations.

After the Court referred the case back to the ACM, the cooperatives submitted that they were (partially) unable to pay the fines. The ACM determined that the fine calculation should depend on a party's "ability to pay in a broad sense", i.e. on the whole organisation's ability to pay over the long term. Where it concerns associations of undertakings, this means account has to be taken of the financial standing of the associations' members. The financial information provided by the cooperatives led the ACM to further lower the fines. The total fines of EUR 14 million initially imposed on the cooperatives and sales organisations were reduced to EUR 1.63 million.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of August 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. Court of Justice clarifies the legality of royalty payments in the event of revocation or non-infringement of the licensed patent 
  2. General Court confirms fines imposed on the basis of economic continuity in maritime hose cartel 
  3. European Commission imposes record cartel fine on truck manufacturers for price fixing 
  4. European Commission deems support measures in favour of Dutch football clubs in line with State aid rules 
  5. Dutch District Court ruled that parent companies cannot be held liable for damages arising from antitrust infringements committed by their subsidiaries 
  6. ACM lowered fines in the pepper cartel case 
  7. Dutch Supreme Court confirms the availability of a passing-on defence in antitrust damages litigation 
  8. Brussels Court of Appeal rules that concerted lobbying efforts of cement producers do not breach competition law 
  9. Belgian competition authority upholds licence refusal to football club White Star

Source: Competition Law Newsletter August 2016

Team

Related news

02.04.2020 NL law
ACM played high stakes and lost: no more fixed network access regulation

Short Reads - The ACM’s failure to meet the requisite standard of proof has led to the fixed networks of Dutch telecom providers KPN and VodafoneZiggo being free from access regulation. The Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate the existence of collective dominance, and that KPN and VodafoneZiggo would tacitly coordinate their behaviour absent regulation.

Read more

26.03.2020 BE law
​I am suffering significant financial losses as a result of the spread of the corona virus. Is there a possibility of State aid?

Short Reads - COVID-19 brings certain questions to centre stage regarding State aid. In this short read, Peter Wytinck, Sophie Van Besien and Michèle de Clerck discuss the possibility of State aid in case of significant financial losses as a result of the spread of the corona virus.

Read more

02.04.2020 NL law
Claims assigned to a litigation vehicle: who needs to prove what?

Short Reads - Two recent decisions from the Amsterdam Court of Appeal have confirmed that litigation vehicles cannot come empty-handed to the court, and should provide documentation regarding the assignments of claims they submit. The Dutch legal system allows companies and individuals to assign their claims to a “litigation vehicle” or “claims vehicle” that bundles those claims into a single action. In its decisions of 10 March 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that it is up to litigation vehicles to prove that the assignments can be invoked against the debtor. 

Read more

10.03.2020 NL law
De AVG staat niet in de weg aan de verwerking van persoonsgegevens door een toezichthouder tijdens een bedrijfsbezoek

Short Reads - Bedrijven die met toezicht worden geconfronteerd, zijn gehouden op verzoek van een toezichthouder in beginsel alle informatie te verstrekken. Met de komst van de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG) is in de praktijk de vraag opgekomen of een toezichthouder bevoegd is om persoonsgegevens die onderdeel uitmaken van de gevraagde informatie te verwerken.

Read more

02.04.2020 NL law
EU competition policy agenda: full to the brim

Short Reads - The European Commission’s competition policy agenda stretches to 2024 and contains plans for many new or revised rules and guidelines. Recent publications, such as the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, shed more light on the Commission’s initiatives and their possible impact on parties from both inside and outside the European Union (EU). These new initiatives include temporary state aid rules to address the effects of the Corona crisis, consultations on the Block Exemption Regulations, and new measures in respect of (primarily) third-country companies.

Read more

05.03.2020 NL law
CBb confirms: no cartel fine, still interest to appeal cartel decision

Short Reads - Companies can challenge a decision establishing that they committed a competition law violation, even if no fine was imposed on them. The CBb – the highest court for public enforcement of cartel cases – recently confirmed that the absence of a fine does not affect a company’s interest to appeal. Consequently, parent companies held liable for a subsidiary’s cartel infringement can still challenge a cartel decision, irrespective of whether fines were imposed on them separately.

Read more

This website uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential for the technical functioning of our website and you cannot disable these cookies if you want to read our website. We also use functional cookies to ensure the website functions properly and analytical cookies to personalise content and to analyse our traffic. You can either accept or refuse these functional and analytical cookies.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring