Articles

Court of Justice reduced fine imposed on Galp Energía España and acknowledged excessive duration of General Court proceedings

Court of Justice reduced fine imposed on Galp Energía España and acknowledged excessive duration of General Court proceedings

Court of Justice reduced fine imposed on Galp Energía España and acknowledged excessive duration of General Court proceedings

02.02.2016 NL law

On 21 January 2016, the Court of Justice handed down its judgment on appeal brought by three legal entities of the Galp Energía group ("Galp"). Galp sought the annulment of a General Court ("GC") judgment partially upholding a 2007 Commission decision fining Galp for its participation in the Spanish penetration bitumen cartel. 

The Court of Justice partially set aside the GC judgment, ruling that the GC erred in law by exceeding its unlimited jurisdiction to set the amount of the fine because it relied on evidence not used in the Commission decision. Accordingly, the  Court of Justice reduced the fine imposed on Galp. Furthermore, it held that the GC breached its obligation to adjudicate cases within a reasonable time, and reaffirmed that the only effective remedy for this breach is an action for damages before the GC.

In the contested judgment, the GC ruled that the Commission had failed to establish Galp's participation in two components of the cartel: (i) a system for monitoring the implementation of the agreements and (ii) a compensation mechanism to correct deviations from the arrangements. Nevertheless, the GC concluded that Galp was aware of the participation of other members in these two components of the cartel. The GC deduced this from a statement from Galp's bitumen sales director, which had not been used by the Commission in order to establish Galp's liability. Taking into consideration Galp's awareness of the two cartel components, the GC only reduced Galp's fine by 4 per cent.

The Court of Justice ruled that the GC breached its unlimited jurisdiction under Article 261 TFEU and Article 31 of Regulation 1/2003, by relying on evidence not used in the contested Commission decision. When exercising their unlimited jurisdiction, EU Courts are empowered to substitute their own assessment for that of the Commission in relation to the determination of the amount of a penalty. However, the Court of Justice held that the scope of that unlimited jurisdiction is strictly limited to the amount of the fine and excludes any alteration of the constituent elements of the lawfully determined infringement. Consequently, the GC erred in law when it relied on the sales director's statement, as it was not used by the Commission to prove Galp's awareness of the two cartel components. Finding no evidence of Galp's awareness of these components in the contested decision, the Court of Justice further reduced the fine. Instead of the 4 per cent reduction granted by the GC, the Court of Justice lowered Galp's fine by 10 per cent.

Galp also argued that the GC's judgment should be annulled because the GC did not adjudicate the case within a reasonable time. The Court of Justice acknowledged that the length of the GC proceedings – five years and nine months – was excessive and could not be justified by the nature, complexity or context of the case. However, the  Court of Justice did not annul the GC judgment, considering that the only effective remedy for this breach is an action for damages before the GC.

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

  1. Court of Justice confirmed independence of EU and national leniency programmes
  2. Court of Justice clarified the concept of a concerted practice for unilateral announcements
  3. Court of Justice dismissed Toshiba's appeal in the power transformers cartel case
  4. Belgium's "excess profit" tax scheme qualified as illegal state aid
  5. German Competition Authority fined ASICS for restricting Internet sales of its distributors

Team

Related news

10.10.2018 NL law
Ongevraagd advies Raad van State: normering van geautomatiseerde overheidsbesluitvorming

Short Reads - Op 31 augustus 2018 heeft de Afdeling advisering van de Raad van State (hierna: "Afdeling advisering") een 'Ongevraagd advies over de effecten van de digitalisering voor de rechtsstatelijke verhoudingen' betreffende de positie en de bescherming van de burger tegen een "iOverheid" uitgebracht. Het gebeurt niet vaak dat de Afdeling advisering zo een ongevraagd advies uitbrengt. Dit onderstreept het belang van de voortdurend in ontwikkeling zijnde technologie en digitalisering in relatie tot de verhouding tussen de overheid en de maatschappij.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Short Reads - On 7 September 2018, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the UK Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) decision fining Ping Europe Limited, a manufacturer of golf clubs, for violating EU and UK competition law by prohibiting two UK retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. While the CAT reduced the fine from £1.45 million to £1.25 million, it confirmed that outright online sales bans in the context of selective distribution agreements are restrictive of competition by object.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Short Reads - On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision

Short Reads - On 3 September 2018, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) annulled the market analysis decision regarding 24-hour business mail issued by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on 27 July 2017. In appeal proceedings filed by PostNL, the CBb ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate that digital mail was not part of the relevant market for 24-hour business mail.

Read more

26.09.2018 EU law
Algemene bepalingen inzake oneerlijke handelspraktijken wijken voor specifiekere regelgeving

Articles - In geval van strijdigheid tussen de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken[1] (en bij uitbreiding de omzettingsbepalingen in Boek VI WER) en andere Europeesrechtelijke voorschriften betreffende specifieke aspecten van oneerlijke handelspraktijken, hebben deze laatste voorrang (zie artikel 3, lid 4 van de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken). Dat dit tot interessante discussies kan leiden, bleek uit een recent arrest van het Hof van Justitie[2].

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