Short Reads

District Court of Amsterdam declines jurisdiction in competition law damages case

District Court of Amsterdam declines jurisdiction in competition law

District Court of Amsterdam declines jurisdiction in competition law damages case

01.06.2018 NL law

On 9 May 2018, the District Court of Amsterdam declined to accept jurisdiction over Athenian Brewery (AB), a Greek subsidiary of Heineken, in a civil case brought by competitor Macedonian Thrace Brewery (MTB). In the same judgment, the Amsterdam District Court did accept jurisdiction over the alleged claim brought by MTB against Heineken N.V. (Heineken), for the reason that Heineken is based in Amsterdam. The case against Heineken will therefore continue to the next procedural phase, in which the parties will debate the merits of MTB’s alleged claim against Heineken.

On 19 September 2014, the Greek competition authority fined AB for abusing its dominant position on the Greek beer market. In its decision, the authority specifically found that there was no concrete evidence or any indication that Heineken had been involved in the alleged abuse of dominance of AB. Despite this finding, MTB initiated a civil claim against both AB and Heineken in Amsterdam. MTB argued that its claim against AB was 'closely connected' with its claim against Heineken so that the court could assume jurisdiction under the doctrine of the 'anchor defendant' (Article 8(1) Brussel I Regulation Recast). AB and Heineken subsequently raised a preliminary motion arguing that there was no such close connection.

The District Court of Amsterdam first ruled that MTB’s alleged claims against Heineken and AB were governed by Greek law. Under Greek law, a legal entity is not liable in principle for unlawful acts committed by another legal entity, even if both entities belong to the same group of companies. Therefore, for a successful claim against Heineken it was necessary to establish that Heineken itself was guilty of unlawful conduct, or of involvement in the alleged unlawful conduct of AB. MTB, however, failed to allege sufficiently concrete conduct on the part of Heineken and put forward ‘almost no concrete factual allegations regarding Heineken’s involvement in the alleged competition law infringement’. Given that that European Union law also does not dictate that entities that are part of the same ‘undertaking’ are liable in civil law to pay damages in the absence of a binding decision establishing their actual involvement in a competition law infringement, that concept could also not be used to substantiate the alleged 'connectivity'. For these reasons, the Court declined jurisdiction over the claims against AB. It nevertheless assumed jurisdiction over the claims against Heineken, given that Heineken is based in Amsterdam (Article 4(1) Brussels I Regulation Recast).

The Court's judgment shows that plaintiffs have to properly substantiate their alleged claims if they seek to rely on the 'anchor defendant'-doctrine. Dutch courts will not assume jurisdiction based merely on the allegations of plaintiffs.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of June 2018. Other articles in this newsletter:

European Court of Justice rules EY did not violate stand-still obligation in Danish merger
European Commission must reassess Lufthansa's request to waive merger commitments
Dutch Appeal Court drastically reduces cartel fine Dutch construction company
Belgian Supreme Court confirms illegality of dawn raids due to the lack of a warrant

Team

Related news

30.04.2019 EU law
Climate goals and energy targets: legal perspectives

Seminar - On Tuesday April 30th, Stibbe organizes a seminar on climate goals and energy targets. Climate change has incited different international and supranational institutions to issue climate goals and renewable energy targets. Both the UN and the EU have led this movement with various legal instruments.

Read more

04.04.2019 NL law
Fine liability in antitrust cases is closely scrutinised by Dutch courts

Short Reads - A parent company can be held liable for a subsidiary's anti-competitive conduct if the parent has exercised decisive influence over the subsidiary, because the two are then considered a single undertaking. This is why the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) recently found that the ACM cannot simply rely on managing partners' civil liability to determine fine liability for a limited partnership's anti-competitive conduct.

Read more

12.04.2019 NL law
Hoogste Europese rechter bevestigt dat overheden onrechtmatige staatssteun proactief moeten terugvorderen

Short Reads - De maand maart 2019 zal vermoedelijk de juridisch handboeken ingaan als een historische maand voor het mededingings- en staatssteunrecht. Niet alleen deed het Hof van Justitie een baanbrekende uitspraak op het gebied van het verhaal van kartelschade. Het heeft in de uitspraak Eesti Pagar (C-349/17) van 5 maart 2019 belangrijke vragen opgehelderd over de handhaving van het staatssteunrecht op nationaal niveau.

Read more

04.04.2019 NL law
Tick-tock: no reset of the appeal clock for amending Commission decision

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice recently upheld the General Court's order finding that metal production and recycling company Eco-Bat had submitted its appeal outside of the appeal term. Eco-Bat had relied on the term starting from the date of the European Commission's decision correcting figures for the fine calculation in the initial infringement decision.

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