Articles

General Court largely confirmed Commission's freight forwarding cartel decision

General Court largely confirmed Commission's freight forwarding cartel decision

General Court largely confirmed Commission's freight forwarding cartel decision

01.03.2016 NL law

On 29 February 2016, the General Court ("GC") dismissed most of the appeal grounds brought by 14 international groups of air freight forwarders and largely upheld the fines for their participation in several price fixing cartels. Only as regards one of the companies involved, UTi Worldwide, the GC decided to reduce the fine from EUR 3.07 million to EUR 2.97 million.

In 2012, the Commission imposed fines of EUR 169 million on the freight forwarders for breaching Article 101 TFEU by participating in one or more of four separate price fixing agreements. The Commission found that the freight forwarders coordinated pricing of international air freight forwarding services by fixing four different surcharges and pricing mechanisms. For instance, the freight forwarders agreed to introduce a common surcharge for administrative costs relating to US custom regulations, and conspired to align the implementation date and level of "peak season surcharges".

On appeal before the GC, the freight forwarders brought forward a large number of substantive and procedural arguments against the Commission's decision, including alleged errors of fact and law in relation to the definition of the relevant market, the duration of the infringement and the calculation of the fines. The GC rejected the majority of the appeal grounds. In particular, the GC found that the agreements on the surcharges and pricing mechanisms affected freight forwarding services as a "package of services" on the trade lanes affected, and the Commission was entitled to base its fine calculations on the total value thereof.

The GC only recalculated the fine imposed on freight forwarder UTi Worldwide. UTi Worldwide was held liable purely for the behaviour of its subsidiaries UTi Nederland and UTI Worldwide (UK). In its decision, the Commission rounded down the infringement periods imputed to the subsidiaries, but failed to do so for UTi Worldwide. The GC confirmed the principles laid down in Tomkins and Total [see our October 2015 newsletter] and ruled that the liability of a parent company cannot exceed that of its subsidiary when its liability is purely derivative of that of its subsidiary, and no other factor individually distinguishes the conduct for which the parent company is held liable. Consequently, the GC recalculated the fine initially imposed on UTi Worldwide and reduced it from EUR 3.07 million to EUR 2.97 million.

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

1. CBb ruled that the ACM wrongfully blocked merger between baking companies
2. European Commission qualified Dutch and Belgian tax regimes for seaports as state aid

Team

Related news

08.08.2019 BE law
Regulating online platforms: piece of the puzzle

Articles - The new Regulation no. 2019/1150 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services, applicable as of 12 July 2020, is another piece of the puzzle regulating online platforms, this time focussing on the supply side of the platforms.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
Call of duty: Commission must state reasons when straying from its guidelines

Short Reads - The European Commission has lost a second battle concerning its EUR 15 million fine imposed upon interdealer broker ICAP, this time before the European Court of Justice. The Court upheld the previous judgment of the General Court on the basis of the Commission's failure to state reasons concerning its fining methodology of cartel facilitator ICAP. This may lead to more reasoned Commission decisions in the future - deterrence of cartel behaviour does not justify keeping the methodology for setting the fines as a 'black box'.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
General court dismisses all five appeals in the optical disk drives cartel

Short Reads - The General Court recently upheld a Commission decision finding that suppliers of optical disk drives colluded in bids for sales to Dell and HP by engaging in a network of parallel bilateral contacts over a multi-year period. The General Court rejected applicants' arguments regarding the Commission's fining methodology, including that the Commission ought to have provided reasons for not departing from the general methodology set out in its 2006 Guidelines.

Read more

22.07.2019 NL law
HagaZiekenhuis beboet voor datalek

Short Reads - Enkele maanden geleden vierden we de eerste verjaardag van de Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming (AVG) met een uitgebreide beschouwing  over de belangrijkste  ontwikkelingen uit  het eerste jaar van de verordening. We concludeerden daarin onder meer dat de door sommigen voorspelde hoge bestuurlijke boetes voor overtredingen van de AVG tot dan toe  - zowel in Nederland als in de andere EU-lidstaten - grotendeels waren uitgebleven.

Read more

01.08.2019 NL law
Brand owners beware: Commission tough on cross-border sales restrictions

Short Reads - The European Commission recently imposed a EUR 6.2 million fine on Hello Kitty owner Sanrio for preventing its licensees from selling licensed merchandising products across the entire EEA. Sanrio is the second licensor (after Nike) to be fined for imposing territorial sales restrictions on its non-exclusive licensees for licensed merchandise. A third investigation into allegedly similar practices by Universal Studios is ongoing. The case confirms the Commission's determination to tackle these practices, regardless of type or form.

Read more

17.07.2019 BE law
EU Single-Use Plastics Directive is now in force: brief recap

Articles - Plastic is a significant and growing global concern. A recent study commissioned by WWF and carried out by the University of Newcastle, Australia, suggests that people are consuming around 2,000 tiny pieces of plastic every week (which is approximately 5 grams of plastic, the weight of a credit card).  In this context, the EU adopted a new directive aiming at tackling marine litter generated from 10 single-use plastic products and from abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics. This is called the Single-Use Plastics Directive and has entered into force this month, on 2 July 2019.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring