Short Reads

CJEU clarifies jurisdiction for follow-on damage claims

CJEU clarifies jurisdiction for follow-on damage claims

CJEU clarifies jurisdiction for follow-on damage claims

05.08.2021 EU law

The Court of Justice of the European Union recently further clarified which courts within the EU have jurisdiction to hear follow-on damage claims. This can be either the court of the place where the claimant purchased a cartelized product, or where the claimant has its registered office (domicile), or at a centralized court designated by the EU member state for specific types of cases.

On 15 July 2021 in case C-30/20, Volvo and others, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the "Court") provided further guidance on which courts have jurisdiction to hear follow-on damage claims.

Article 7(2) of the Brussels I regulation (recast) confers jurisdiction to the court of the place where the damage occurred. Previously, the Court has held that if a competition law infringement purportedly affected the market in a certain EU member state, the place where the damage occurred could be located in that member state, conferring jurisdiction to that member state's courts (case C-451/18, Tibor Trans, see our newsletter article on that judgment here).

The judgment in Volvo and others further clarifies which courts within an EU member state have jurisdiction. The main takeaways are:

  1. Article 7(2) of the Brussels I regulation (recast) directly determines which court within an EU member state has jurisdiction. For that purpose, it must be established at which place within an EU member state the damage occurred.
  2. National rules conferring jurisdiction to courts within an EU member state's territory, are irrelevant, with one exception: EU member states are not precluded from designating centralized courts to deal with specific types of cases. Centralization before a specialized court may be justified in the interests of the sound administration of justice and may be particularly helpful in cases that concern technically complex issues and rules, such as follow-on damage claims.
  3. If an EU member state has not designated a centralized court, the place where the damage occurred is the place:
    • where the claimant purchased the goods affected by the anticompetitive behavior; or
    • if the claimant has purchased goods in multiple places, the place where the claimant's registered office is located.

With (3), the Court also further specifies its earlier ruling on international jurisdiction: if a claimant purchased goods in one EU member state within the affected market, that member state's courts have jurisdiction. If the claimant purchased goods in multiple EU member states, the claimant can bring his claim for follow-on damages in the EU member state where his registered office is located.  

The Court's judgment in Volvo and others provides useful guidance for determining courts' jurisdiction to hear follow-on damage claims. From the perspective of claimants, the judgment can be seen as helpful, as it gives claimants the opportunity to claim damages close to home (i.e. at the court of their registered office) if they purchased goods that were affected by anticompetitive conduct in multiple places. 

From the defendant's perspective, the judgment will likely have limited impact, as the Court's ruling in Tibor-Trans had already conferred international jurisdiction to the courts of all EU member states whose markets were purportedly affected by the anticompetitive behaviour. This relatively wide interpretation of the place where damage occurred already potentially exposes defendants to follow-on damage claims throughout the EU.

The Netherlands does not have any centralized courts that deal with follow-on damage claims. If follow-on damage claims are brought in the Netherlands, the rule under (3) above will therefore determine which courts in the Netherlands have jurisdiction to hear a specific claimant's claim.

This article was published in the Competition Newsletter of August 2021. Other articles in this newsletter:

Are your distribution contracts ready for the revised VBER?

Horizontal cooperation: from the dark side to the light?

ACM issues first excessive pricing fine in pharma

Court rules ACM can use accidental evidence found in dawn raids

Netherlands FDI regime protecting national security is getting closer

Amsterdam Court of Appeal rules on the applicable law to air freight

Court assesses threshold for substantiating cartel damage plausibility


Related news

07.10.2021 NL law
Commission’s record fine for gun jumping upheld

Short Reads - Pre-closing covenants protecting the target’s value or commercial integrity pending merger clearance from the European Commission must be drafted carefully. The General Court confirmed the Commission’s record-breaking fines on Altice for violating the EU Merger Regulation’s notification and standstill obligations. According to the General Court, the mere possibility of exercising decisive influence over the target can result in a gun jumping breach.

Read more

07.10.2021 NL law
ACM walks the walk: first-ever vertical price coordination fine

Short Reads - The Dutch Competition Authority (“ACM”) has claimed a first victim in its vertical restraints battle. Samsung Electronics was fined nearly EUR 40 million for having meddled in the online resale prices for televisions at seven retailers. Compared to the European Commission’s fines on four consumer electronics producers for resale price maintenance (“RPM”), the ACM’s summary decision seems to refer to a ‘light’ version of RPM: systematic price coordination without any threats, sanctions or incentives for the retailers to stick to the price.

Read more

07.10.2021 NL law
Commission reveals first piece of antitrust sustainability puzzle

Short Reads - The European Commission has published a Policy Brief setting out its preliminary views on how to fit the European Green Deal’s sustainability goals into the EU competition rules. Companies keen to be green may be left in limbo by a looming clash with more far-reaching proposals from national competition authorities. More pieces of the antitrust sustainability puzzle will fall into place as soon as the ongoing review of the guidelines on horizontal cooperation is finalised.

Read more

13.09.2021 NL law
Adopting the new Standard Contractual Clauses to secure international personal data transfers

Short Reads - Recently, the European Commission issued an implementing decision on standard new contractual clauses (“SCCs”) for the transfer of personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area. Organisations need to use the new SCCs from 27 September 2021 and onwards. Transitional periods apply for existing international data transfer agreements. To meet their obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation, organisations need to make the appropriate changes in time.

Read more

07.10.2021 NL law
Court of Appeal provides guidance for further course of proceedings in prestressing steel litigation

Short Reads - On 27 July 2021, the Court of Appeal of Den Bosch issued an interim judgment in the Dutch prestressing steel litigation, ruling on three issues: (i) the obligation of claimant to furnish facts; (ii) the assignment of claims; and (iii) the liability of the parent companies. In short, the Court of Appeal allowed the claimant Deutsche Bahn another opportunity to supplement the facts needed to substantiate its claims in the next phase of the proceedings.

Read more

09.09.2021 BE law
Digital Law Up(to)date: (1) Parliamentary initiatives about cyber attacks; (2) ‘Zero tariff’ options before the CJEU; and (3) Council of State, GDPR and encryption

Articles - In this blog, we briefly present three interesting news in the field of digital law: (1) Parliamentary initiatives to tackle cyber attacks (2) "Zero tariff" options and open internet access do not mix! (3) Council of State, GDPR and encryption: validation of a decision of the Flemish Authorities

Read more