Short Reads

Hague Court of Appeal rules on interpretation of object infringements

Hague Court of Appeal rules on interpretation of object infringements

Hague Court of Appeal rules on interpretation of object infringements

01.05.2017 NL law

On 4 April 2017, the Hague Court of Appeal ruled that supermarket and food service trade association CBL (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelhandel) and its member Jumbo had not infringed article 6 of the Dutch Competition Act (Mw) when setting minimum standards for preventing the sale of alcohol and tobacco to underage customers. The ruling overturns the earlier judgment of the District Court of the Hague finding an infringement of the Dutch cartel prohibition.

In the Netherlands, it is prohibited to sell alcohol and tobacco to underage customers. To prevent such sales, Hollandsche Exploitatiemaatschappij (HEM) developed a system to verify the age of a customer by taking a picture at the cash register and having it evaluated off-site. Separately, CBL, with 95% of all supermarkets as its members, launched a Campaign in 2009 and drafted a Code of Conduct in 2012 that focused on age verification by the cashier. With the Campaign and Code CBL in effect introduced a minimum standard for CBL's members.

HEM initiated proceedings against CBL and Jumbo, alleging a cartel infringement resulting in the exclusion of HEM's system from the market. The District Court considered that the Campaign and Code amounted to an object infringement. It reached this conclusion by observing HEM's system was excluded from the market. The Court of Appeal overturned the ruling of the District Court. Referencing Cartes Bancaires, the Court observed that the concept of 'object infringement' should be interpreted restrictively. In this case, the Court of Appeal considered that there was no object infringement. CBL Members were free to use additional verification measures. For example, one supermarket experimented with the HEM system while adhering to the Campaign, showing that the Campaign and Code did not exclude the use of the system. The Court also found it relevant that CBL's members had considered the system but decided against it for reasons relating to the system itself.

Decisions of trade associations and the concept of object infringements have come up a few times recently (e.g. Alpe d'huZes and De Geborgde Dierenarts). The District Court's ruling in this case was met with questions from practitioners that observed the limited substantiation for the finding of an object infringement. Additional questions were raised about the compatibility of the District Court's ruling with Cartes Bancaires. The judgment of the Hague Court of Appeal has now reconfirmed the restrictive interpretation of object infringements. HEM has indicated it will appeal the rulings before the Supreme Court.

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

  1. Court of Justice allows use of evidence received from national tax authorities
  2. Court of Justice clarifies parental liability rules in the context of prescription
  3. European Commission publishes report on effectiveness of enforcement in online hotel booking sector
  4. Dusseldorf Court confirms that Asics' online sales restrictions violate competition law
  5. Commercial Court of Ghent grants compensation to parallel importers for competition law infringement by Honda

Team

Related news

08.06.2021 NL law
De Europese Klimaatwet uitgelicht

Short Reads - Op 21 april 2021 is een voorlopig akkoord bereikt over de Europese Klimaatwet. Deze Klimaatwet kan worden gezien als de kern van de Europese Green Deal, die in december 2019 werd gepubliceerd door de Europese Commissie. Het overstijgende doel van deze instrumenten is om een klimaatneutraal Europa te bewerkstelligen in 2050. De Europese Klimaatwet zorgt ervoor dat deze klimaatneutraliteitsdoelstelling in een Europese verordening wordt vastgelegd. Dit blogbericht gaat nader in op de Europese Klimaatwet en legt uit wat dit met zich brengt.

Read more

22.07.2021 NL law
Towards a European legal framework for the development and use of Artificial Intelligence

Short Reads - Back in 2014, Stephen Hawking said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Although the use of artificial intelligence is nothing new and dates back to Alan Turing (the godfather of computational theory), prominent researchers – along with Stephen Hawking – have expressed their concerns about the unregulated use of AI systems and their impact on society as we know it.

Read more

08.06.2021 NL law
Actualiteiten milieustrafrecht: zorgelijke ontwikkelingen

Short Reads - Vrijdag 28 mei jl. hadden wij een inspirerend webinar over actualiteiten op het gebied van milieustrafrecht. Wij spraken gedurende 90 minuten onder meer over aansprakelijkheden van bestuurders, de zorgplichten, incidentenrapportages vanuit strafrechtelijk- en bestuursrechtelijk perspectief.

Read more

03.06.2021 NL law
First material judgment in Dutch damages proceedings in trucks infringement

Short Reads - In its judgment of 12 May 2021, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that it has not been established that it is definitively excluded that the trucks infringement led to damage to the claimants. However, this does not alter the fact that it must still be assessed for each claimant whether the threshold for referral to the damages assessment procedure has been met. For this to be the case, it must be plausible that a claimant may have suffered damage as a result of the unlawful actions of the truck manufacturers. The Amsterdam District Court has not yet ruled on this issue.

Read more