Short Reads

District Court rejects the applicability of arbitration clauses in antitrust damages litigation

District Court rejects the applicability of arbitration clauses in antitrust damages litigation

District Court rejects the applicability of arbitration clauses in antitrust damages litigation

01.07.2016 NL law

On 25 May 2016, the District Court of Rotterdam ("the Court") ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear one of the elevator follow-on damages litigation claims. The Court declined to apply the arbitration clauses relied upon by the defendants, taking the view that those clauses did not cover antitrust damages claims.

 

The case has its origins in a 2007 infringement decision, in which the Commission fined several elevator manufacturers for participating in anticompetitive practices. Following that decision, 41 housing associations joined forces and established Stichting De Glazen Lift ("DGL"), to which they assigned their alleged antitrust damages claims. DGL subsequently initiated damages proceedings before the Court. In turn, defendants Kone B.V., ThyssenKrupp Liften B.V., Otis B.V. and Mitsubishi Elevator Europe B.V. ("the elevator manufacturers") contested the jurisdiction of the Court. The elevator manufacturers based this motion on the arbitration clauses contained in the supply and service agreements that they had concluded with the housing associations during the relevant period.

Referring to the Court of Justice's judgment in CDC HP the Court dismissed the motion. In CDC HP, the Court of Justice had ruled that jurisdiction clauses can only validly derogate from the EU jurisdictional rules if the clause clearly refers to disputes concerning liability incurred as a result of an infringement of competition law. The Court applied this reasoning by analogy to the arbitration clauses invoked by the elevator manufacturers. Given that these clauses broadly subjected "every dispute arising between parties" to arbitration, the housing associations could not reasonably foresee antitrust damages claims falling within their scope. Therefore, according to the Court, the arbitration clauses did not apply.

The Court further considered that even if DGL's claims were to fall within the scope of the arbitration clauses, their application would nevertheless be unacceptable according to the reasonableness and fairness principle under Dutch law.  According to the Court, application of the arbitration clauses would be contrary to the principle of effectiveness of EU law, since the housing associations would have to verify for thousands of elevators whether claims should be brought before a district court or an arbitration panel.

Several Dutch courts have already rejected the applicability of arbitration clauses in follow-on damages proceedings (e.g. ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2014:3190 and ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2015:3006) [see also our January 2014 newsletter]. The judgment of the District Court of Rotterdam shows that (i) the phrasing of the arbitration clauses needs to specifically cover antitrust damages claims, but (ii) even then Dutch courts may decline to refer the dispute to arbitration due to reasonableness and fairness considerations, depending on the specifics of the case.

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

1. Court of Justice dismisses appeals in the Calcium Carbide Cartel
2.
General Court confirms that the financial position of shareholders and the possibility to increase credit facilities are relevant when assessing an inability to pay request
3. General Court confirms illegality of non-compete clause in telecoms transaction
4. Update on changes in antitrust damages claims legislation in the Netherlands
5. New maximum fines for competition law infringements in the Netherlands as of 1 July 2016
6. General Court rules that an implicit and unlimited guarantee does not necessarily constitute State aid

Related news

04.01.2019 NL law
Guess what, online branding restrictions are on the Commission's radar

Short Reads - Companies are probably aware of the Commission's eagerness to clamp down on online resale price maintenance and geo-blocking restrictions. The recent fine for vertical restraints by clothing company Guess marks a new dot on the Commission's radar. Restrictions on retailers using a supplier's brand names for online search advertising purposes are just as much a no-go.

Read more

08.01.2019 EU law
Belgium's Energy & Climate Plan - What is the legislative framework for climate policy in Belgium?

Articles - On 19 December 2018, Belgium adopted the first version of the National Energy & Climate Plan, which is a compilation of three individual climate plans from each of Belgium’s regions. It contains specific measures aiming to reduce CO2 emissions in Belgium by 35% by 2030 and to increase the share of renewable energy to 18.3%. The Plan will be submitted to the European Commission and, at the same time, presented to the population, stakeholders, parliaments, and neighboring countries.

Read more

04.01.2019 NL law
Partial fine reduction for Deutsche Telekom and Slovak Telekom for abuse of dominance

Short Reads - The General Court recently clarified that to establish a margin squeeze in the case of positive margins, the Commission needs to prove the exclusionary effects of the dominant company's pricing practices. It also indicated that in cases of refusal to grant access, it is not always necessary to establish the indispensability of the access.

Read more

04.01.2019 NL law
Walking the tightrope between data protection and EU investigations

Short Reads - Two recent publications confirm that it is possible for companies to cooperate with a European Commission investigation and still comply with the data protection rules. It is also possible for the Commission to deviate from certain data protection obligations in the interest of a competition law investigation. The tightrope between data protection and Commission investigations may not be as rigid as initially feared.

Read more

04.01.2019 NL law
General Court dismisses Canal+ appeal against pay-TV commitment decision

Short Reads - The General Court recently dismissed the appeal brought by Canal+ against the decision of the European Commission making the commitments of Paramount legally binding. In 2015, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections alleging that certain geo-blocking clauses in licensing agreements between film studios and pay-TV broadcasters had the object of restricting cross-border competition.

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