Short Reads

District Court of Rotterdam annuls 6 fines in the Rotterdam taxi operators cartel case

District Court of Rotterdam annuls 6 fines in the Rotterdam taxi operators cartel case

District Court of Rotterdam annuls 6 fines in the Rotterdam taxi operators cartel case

02.11.2016 NL law

On 13 October 2016, the District Court of Rotterdam ("Court") delivered its judgments in the Rotterdam Taxi Operators Case.

In its rulings the Court annulled the decisions of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM"), which imposed fines on two Rotterdam taxi firms (decision 1 and 2) and on four of the executives working for the taxi firms (decision 34, 5 and 6) for violating the Dutch cartel prohibition.

Specifically, the Court found that the ACM had failed to adequately determine the relevant geographic market. As a result, the Court was unable to determine whether or not the cartel would fall within the scope of the Dutch de minimis provision ex Article 7 Dutch Competition Act.

In its decision, dated 20 November 2012, the ACM decided that the taxi operators engaged in bid-rigging arrangements involving contractual taxi transport services in the greater Rotterdam area. The ACM limited the relevant geographic market to the Rotterdam Region. Consequently, the market shares of the parties involved were higher. For that reason, the cartel fell outside of the scope of the de minimis provision.

The taxi operators appealed the decision arguing, among other things, that the ACM insufficiently substantiated its position that the geographic market should be limited to the Rotterdam region. The taxi operators pointed out that in a previous merger notification assessment the ACM had ruled that the market for contracted taxi services should likely be delineated at the national level and that the ACM had failed to investigate whether or not the market should be broader than the Rotterdam region.

The Court agreed with the taxi operators, stating that there was no evidence of the ACM conducting a thorough investigation with regard to the geographic market and  therefore it could not rule out that the market was indeed a national market. As a result, the Court concluded that it was impossible to determine whether the conduct of the parties significantly restricted competition and whether the parties could invoke the de minimis provision. The ACM was not offered an opportunity to remedy the defects, because the Court stated that too much time had passed and a new assessment would be required. Therefore, the Court repealed the decision of the ACM and annulled the fines.

The key takeaway of these judgments is that, according to the Court, also in cartel cases the ACM will have to sufficiently examine what the relevant market is, before it can conclude whether or not competition was appreciably restricted.

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

  1. District Court of The Hague deals with claim reduction by claimant and rules that claimant is responsible for preserving documents
  2. Dutch Ministry issues Guidelines on Corporate Sustainability Initiatives and Competition Law

Team

Related news

11.12.2019 EU law
Court of Appeal applies competition notion of undertaking in civil damages claim

Short Reads - The Court of Appeal of Arnhem – Leeuwarden recently applied the competition law notion of an 'undertaking' in a civil damages suit between TenneT and an entity belonging to the Alstom group of companies. The Court of Appeal ruled that Cogelex formed a single undertaking with its 48% shareholder Alstom. Cogelex could therefore be held liable under civil law for the competition law infringement of its 48% parent company. The Court of Appeal based its decision on a broad application of the ECJ’s reasoning in its Skanska judgment of 14 March 201

Read more

09.12.2019 BE law
Stibbe renforce sa pratique de droit européen et de la concurrence par la venue de Sophie Van Besien en qualité d’associée

Inside Stibbe - Bruxelles, le 9 décembre 2019 –  Stibbe a le plaisir d’accueillir Sophie Van Besien, avocate spécialisée en droit européen, droit de la concurrence et des marchés réglementés, en qualité de nouvelle associée au sein de son cabinet bruxellois. Son expertise permettra d’enrichir les prestations actuelles du cabinet au Benelux et de contribuer au développement de son activité en droit européen et en droit de la concurrence ainsi que des marchés réglementés. Sophie Van Besien rejoint Stibbe ce 9 décembre 2019.

Read more

09.12.2019 BE law
Stibbe expands EU/competition practice with new partner Sophie Van Besien

Inside Stibbe - Brussels, 9 December 2019 – Stibbe welcomes EU law, competition, and regulated markets lawyer Sophie Van Besien as a new partner in its Brussels office. Her expertise will enhance Stibbe’s service offering in the Benelux and contribute to the further development of its EU/competition and regulated markets practice. Sophie joins Stibbe on 9 December 2019.

Read more

05.12.2019 NL law
Big tech firms entering banking: be careful what you wish for

Short Reads - Big tech firms, whether entering or already active on payments markets, are under scrutiny. PSD2 has opened up the payments markets to non-bank companies, but this comes with both risks and opportunities. EU regulators are examining anticompetitive risks, for example the possibility of leveraging a strong position in one market into another market. Competition, innovation, privacy and security for financial transactions will all be hot topics as scrutiny increases on providers of payment services.

Read more

09.12.2019 BE law
Stibbe versterkt EU/competition praktijk met nieuwe vennote Sophie Van Besien

Inside Stibbe - Brussel, 9 december 2019 – Stibbe verwelkomt Sophie Van Besien, gespecialiseerd in Europees recht, mededingingsrecht en gereguleerde markten, als nieuwe vennote in het Brusselse kantoor. Sophie’s expertise zal Stibbe’s dienstverlening in de Benelux versterken en bijdragen aan de verdere ontwikkeling van zijn EU/competition en regulated markets praktijk. Sophie vervoegt Stibbe op 9 december 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