ECJ clarifies the scope of proceedings regarding damages suffered by cartel proceedings

On June 22, 2022, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) responded to a request for a preliminary judgment from the Leon State Court (“State Court”) in Spain. The state court’s request came from a proceeding in Volvo AB & DAF Trucks NV (“V & D”) and RM, where RM sought compensation from V & D by participating in a cartel that existed between 1997 and 2011. I have filed a proceedings seeking. To art. 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). A request filed by a Spanish court called for clarification of the time scope of the rules governing the following three elements when considering a proceeding for damages due to the existence of a cartel.

Limited period for filing a proceedings for damages.

Quantification of the harm that has occurred.When

A falsifiable estimate of the existence of harm caused by the cartel.


Between 2006 and 2007, RM purchased three trucks manufactured by V & D. Approximately 10 years later, the European Commission (the “Committee”) made a decision on July 19, 2016, assuming that V & D had participated in a cartel that lasted from 1997 to 2011, with participants particularly price-fixing. I agreed. It violates art in the trucks they sell. TFEU ​​101 (“decision”). Upon being notified of the decision, RM filed a V & D proceeding in Spain’s Leon Commercial Court (“Commercial Court”) on April 1, 2018, seeking compensation for damages incurred by the cartel.

From a procedural point of view, the Commercial Court has stated that the RM proceedings are within the five-year time limit stipulated by Spanish law translating Article 10 (3) of Directive 2014/104, which provides for the proceedings for damages incurred. The RM proceedings were considered acceptable because they were considered to be. From a violation of competition law (“directive”). The Commercial Court also finds that the RM proceedings are substantially well-founded, relying on Article 17 (2) of the Directive, which establishes a refutable presumption that the cartel will harm the affected people. Did. In light of the above, the Commercial Court ordered V & D to pay RM compensation. V & D has appealed the ruling to the state court, arguing that the proceedings have a time limit because the cartel was suspended before the directive moved to Spanish law. This appeal led to a request for an immediate preliminary decision.

ECJ evaluation

The ECJ first referred to Article 22 of the Directive. This establishes a temporary application that national courts should follow when transposing the measures of the Directive. Article 22 distinguishes between substantive and non-substantial provisions adopted in the light of the Directive. The former is explicitly prohibited from retroactive application, but the latter is only permitted in connection with proceedings for damages incurred after December 26, 2014.

Following the above, the ECJ delved into the temporary applicability of Article 10 of the Directive, which provides for the time limit enforced by Member States when transposing the Directive, in the immediate case. The ECJ first established that Article 10 is a provision of substantive nature, as its interpretation may determine the outcome of legal action. The next step was to analyze whether Article 10 was applied retroactively in the immediate case.

It was pointed out that the directive, which had a deadline for transposition to Spanish law on December 27, 2016, was actually transposed to Spanish law five months later. To identify the temporary applicability of Article 10, the ECJ first needed to determine whether the time limit applicable to the immediate case had passed prior to the expiration date of the transposition of the Directive. .. Prior to the transposition of the directive, Spanish regulations in force at the time provided for a one-year statute of limitations for this type of incident. This statute of limitations is reasonably expected to eliminate the infringement and let the injured know what he / he has. Harm suffered; identified a causal relationship between the harm that occurred and the violation of competition law. He then identified the person who committed the infringement. In this regard, the ECJ has established that the time limit in this case began on the day the Commission published the summary of the decision (April 6, 2017). Proceedings for compensation based on infringement of art. TFEU ​​101. In light of the above, RM’s actions are under Article 10 of the Directive, as the ECJ did not meet the time limit applicable under the old Spanish law before the expiration date for replacing the Directive with Spanish law. I concluded that it was within the time range.

Next, the ECJ analyzed the temporary applicability of Article 17 (1) of the Directive. This basically allows the national court to estimate the amount of damages suffered by the injured when it is very difficult to quantify the damages suffered by the injured. In this regard, the court confirms that this is a provision of procedural nature. This is because it is related to determining the required proof criteria. Given that RM filed a proceeding against V & D on April 1, 2018 and is filed after December 26, 2014, temporary application to substantive provisions is permitted. The ECJ has confirmed that the RM proceedings are within the temporary scope of Article 17 (1).Despite the fact that the cartel stopped before the directive came into effect, the directive

With respect to Article 17 (2) of the Directive, the ECJ states that the occurrence of harm is one of the necessary factors in claiming civil liability, and therefore the above article may affect the outcome of legal action. I have. The ECJ concludes that due to its substantive nature, Article 17 (2) is temporarily inapplicable to RM’s actions. This is because the cartel is the factor that gives rise to the presumption of harm under Article 17 (2), and therefore its application in this case is retroactively applied due to the fact that the cartel was shut down prior to the transposition of the directive. This is because it is done. , Therefore it is prohibited.

After receiving the above interpretation from the ECJ, the responsibility for deciding how to proceed with the proceedings between RM and V & D is now back to the district court.

Matthias Grech is a defender of Ganado Advocates. ECJ clarifies the scope of proceedings regarding damages suffered by cartel proceedings

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