Short Reads

Envelope maker's cartel fine annulled in first successful European settlement appeal

Envelope maker's cartel fine annulled in first successful European settlement appeal

Envelope maker's cartel fine annulled in first successful European settlement appeal

02.01.2017 NL law

On 13 December 2016, the General Court ("GC") annulled the € 4.7 million cartel fine the European Commission imposed on envelope maker Printeos. The GC ruled that the Commission failed to state adequate reasons in the settlement decision with regard to why the cartelists were granted different fine reductions.

On 10 December 2014, the Commission fined five envelope makers for coordinating prices and allocating customers for certain types of envelopes. The envelope makers had entered into a voluntary settlement for which they each received a ten per cent fine reduction. In addition, Printeos received a fifty per cent fine reduction because it cooperated with the Commission during the investigation. The Commission further adjusted the fines of the cartelists on the basis of paragraph 37 of the fining guidelines. This paragraph allows the Commission to depart from the methodology set out in the fining guidelines if the particularities of a given case require such an adjustment.

Printeos appealed the settlement decision arguing that the Commission failed to provide the reasons why it adjusted the basic amount of the fines imposed on the cartelists. In particular, Printeos complained that it was unclear why one of the parties received an additional fine reduction and that therefore it was unable to assess whether the settlement decision was in line with the principle of equal treatment.

The GC agreed with Printeos. It ruled that the principle of equal treatment requires the Commission to explain with sufficient clarity and precision how it deviated from the methodology of the guidelines. Because the underlying decision did not contain sufficient reasoning, Printeos was not in a position to effectively dispute the merits of the Commission’s approach. Subsequently, the GC was unable to fully exercise its powers of judicial review with regard to whether the principle of equal treatment had been complied with.

Therefore, the GC concluded that the contested decision was vitiated by a failure to state adequate reasons. As a consequence, the GC annulled the contested settlement decision. The judgement shows that undertakings can successfully appeal settlement decisions and underlines the Commission’s duty to adequately state reasons for its settlement decisions.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of January 2017. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. General Court rules on the concept of a single and continuous infringement in the smart card chips cartel case 
2. District Court of Limburg rules that damages claims in the Dutch prestressing steel case are time-barred
3. ACM established guiding principles in relation to sustainability arrangements
4. Belgian Competition Authority confirms that the acquisition by a dominant player of a small competitor is not automatically an abuse of a dominant position

Team

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