Pauline Affeldty, Tomaso Dusoz and Florian Szücs on ‘25 Years of European Merger Control’ (2019) DIW Berlin Discussion Paper 179

The first European merger control regime came into force in 1990. Since then, merger control has evolved significantly. This paper, available here, employs a new dataset, comprising all merger cases until 2014 that led to a decision by DG Comp (more than 5,000 individual decisions). The goal of the paper is to evaluate the time dynamics of the European Commission’s decision procedures. Specifically, the paper assesses how consistently different arguments related to so-called structural market parameters – market shares, concentration, likelihood of entry and foreclosure – were deployed by the Commission over time. The paper first estimates the probability of intervention as a function of merger characteristics. It finds that the existence of barriers to entry, increases in concentration and, in particular, the share of product markets with competitive concerns are positively associated with intervention by the Commission. After the reform of 2004, an effects-based approach centred on a clearly stated theory of harm became a cornerstone of EU merger…

Julian Nowag and Liisa Tarkkila on ‘How much effectiveness for the EU Damages Directive? Contractual clauses and antitrust damages’ (2020) Common Market Law Review 57 433

Market actors often include clauses in contracts which determine the jurisdiction, and/or forum in which any claim arising from the contract may be heard; or clauses which prohibit reassigning a claim or joining a class action. In some situations, these clauses may make it more difficult to obtain full compensation for a competition law infringement. Antitrust victims can be forced to bring damages actions in jurisdictions or before arbitrational tribunals that have less favourable cost and evidential rules; they may also encounter language-related problems. Similarly, preventing forms of collective redress has obvious benefits for defendants whenever a large number of victims only suffered very small individual harm. This paper, available here, explores the extent to which the aims of the Damages Directive and development of a strong EU private enforcement system in Member States’ courts might be undercut by such contractual arrangements. It argues that EU law protects consumers against clauses that could hinder the full effectiveness of the right to compensation…

Michal Gal ‘The Case for Limiting Private Litigation of Excessive Pricing’ (2020) Journal of Competition Law and Economics 15(2-3) 298

Excessive pricing raises strong concerns for private competition litigation, for three reasons: (1) the inherent difficulty of defining what constitutes an unfair price; (2) additional challenges inherent to private excessive pricing litigation, such as the need to pinpoint when exactly a price becomes unfair in order to calculate damages; and (3) the institutional features of general courts in EU member states. Given that private litigation of competition law violations is only beginning to develop in the EU, and collective redress mechanisms are still viewed with caution by many member states, this is exactly the time to ensure that, as private litigation expands, it will increase welfare. This is the purpose of this paper, which is available here. Section 2 addresses the inherent difficulty of determining when a price becomes unfair. The excessive pricing prohibition, though longstanding, suffers from serious and inherent difficulties in its implementation. In particular, it lacks clear and workable criteria. The challenges can be summarised as follows: to decide…

Jean-François Laborde ‘Cartel damages actions in Europe: How courts have assessed cartel overcharges’ (2019) Concurrences

The primary objective of this study, available here, is to analyse how national European courts have assessed cartel overcharges. In addition, it also provides figures on the development of cartel damages actions in Europe (how many cases were decided, in which countries, with which outcomes, etc.). It was completed with the help of lawyers, law professors, economists, national competition authorities and national judges from 30 European countries.   Now in its fourth edition, this study shows that national courts in Europe have handed down judgments in at least 239 cartel damages actions in 13 countries, relating to more than 63 cartels. In these judgments, courts have given many insights into how to assess cartel overcharges. Section I describes the methodology followed. The process employed for this research involved four steps. The cases were identified; copies of judgments were gathered; using a recent automatic translation service, judgments were translated into English; their content was then analysed. To identify cases, contributors were asked whether they…

Magnus Stand and Eric Monsen ‘Passing-on unlawful charges: Still no small matter’ (2019) European Public Law 25(2) 249

‘Passing on’ occurs when the economic burden of a charge levied from a business is passed on that business’s customers, and possibly even further down the supply chain. The main issues at stake as regards passing on are whether it should be relevant to the calculation of payable damages, and whether  downstream claimants should be able to bring an action in respect of an economic burden passed on to them. The Court of Justice has largely left it to the national legal systems of the Member States to find proper solutions to the passing-on problem in the repayment of unlawfully levied charges. It has nevertheless scrutinised national approaches with increasing stringency. In this paper, available here, the authors call for EU harmonisation of the legal issues triggered by passing on. To that end, the authors present two alternative models for harmonisation. Section 2 describes existing EU rules on passing on. Most European case law on passing on is concerned the duty of…

Cento Veljanovski ‘Collective Certification in UK Competition Law: Commonality, Costs and Funding’ (2019) World Competition 42(1) 121

This article, available here, provides critical assessment of the UK’s emerging collective certification process. It argues that the Competition Appeal Tribunal has applied the test for certification too strictly and not in accordance with the case law surrounding the ‘Canadian model’ on which the UK certification procedure is based; and incorrectly treated the award of aggregate damages as the summation of individual damages. It also argues that the way the CAT has handled these two factors threatens to undermine the purpose and effectiveness of the UK’s new collective action regime. The piece is structured as follows: Section 2 provides an overview of the collective certification requirements. Prior to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which amended the Competition Act, potential litigants had limited opportunities to bring a group action against a common defendant. One might try to rely on group litigation orders – a case management device that allows a court to manage separate claims which share ‘common or related issues of fact…

Michael D. Hausfeld, Irving Scher and Laurence T. Sorkin ‘In Defense of Class Actions: A Response to Makan Delrahim’s Commentary on the UK MasterCard Case’ (2020) Competition Policy International June

This article, available here, was written by lawyers of a US firm that is, in its own words, a ‘global leader on claimant focused competition damages practice’, enabling victims of anticompetitive conduct to obtain damages for harm suffered. This law firm acts for an intervenor, the Consumers’ Association, in the UK MasterCard proceedings that led to the US DoJ sending a letter to the UK’s Supreme Court. This piece is – as the title indicates – a reaction to that letter. The paper begins by framing the issue. The DoJ AAG’s letter to the UK Supreme Court provides an overview of class actions in the US. The authors agree with the general overview of Rule 23 provided by the Division. For example, few would argue with the proposition that, in the antitrust context, indirect purchaser class actions raise more difficult questions of commonality, impact, and manageability than direct purchaser class actions, even though harm may have been sustained at both…

Miguel Sousa Ferro ‘Antitrust private enforcement and the binding effect of public enforcement decisions’ (2019) Market and Competition Law Review 3(2) 51

This paper, available here, provides an overview of the binding effect of public enforcement decisions in follow-on competition law cases in Europe. It discusses the material, subjective and temporal scope of this binding effect. It also tackles other issues, such as the obligations of national courts vis-a-vis non-infringement decisions and ongoing investigations. Finally, it looks into some arguments put forward by litigants before national courts to avoid or circumvent the binding effect of public enforcement decisions. Sections II and III explain the basis for EU and national competition infringement decisions being binding in subsequent damages claims. It follows from Article 16(1) of Regulation /2003, which mainly codified preceding case law, that European Commission decisions identifying infringements of EU competition law which have become final (res judicata) are binding upon national courts in follow-on private enforcement actions. A national court can only escape this binding effect if it believes that the Commission’s infringement decision is invalid and the CJEU declares it to be…

Christian Ritz, Carolin Marx and Manuel Bogenreuther  ‘Prima Facie Evidence in Cartel Damages Litigation – Landmark Decision by the German Federal Court of Justice in the Rail Cartel Case’ (2019) Journal of European Competition Law & Practice 10(8) 491

This paper, available here, deals with a judgment of 11 December 2018 by Germany’s Federal Court of Justice’s Cartel Panel dealing with the applicability of the principle of prima facie evidence (in German ‘Anscheinsbeweis’) regarding causation of damage. Section II focuses on the law of evidence regarding competition damages in Germany. Under German law, each party bears the burden of proving all elements of any statutory provision on which they rely. For cartel damages cases, this means that a claimant asking for damages needs to prove: (i) an infringement of competition law, (ii) the existence of such damages and (iii) that the damages were caused by the infringing behaviour. This situation changed, as regards follow-on claims, as a result of the implementation of the EU Damages Directive. With the goal of ensuring that neither the burden nor the standard of proof render the exercise of the right to compensation practically impossible or excessively difficult, Article 17(2) of the Damages Directive…

Christian Kersting ‘Liability of sister companies and subsidiaries in European competition law’ (2020) European Competition Law Review 41 125

Traditionally, tort liability – which governs private competition enforcement – attaches to specific legal entities. However, liability for a competition infringement under European law attaches to undertakings, i.e. economic units that may comprise multiple legal entities. Increasingly, jurisdictions have relied on this latter approach also for assigning private liability for competition damages, and a similar approach even seems to have been endorsed by the European Court of Justice in Skanska. As a result, questions regarding which legal entities are liable for competition damages are increasingly coming to the fore, particularly as the answer is often crucial to determine whether certain courts (and countries) have jurisdiction over the claim. Under EU competition law, an undertaking encompasses every entity engaged in an economic activity. An undertaking may consist of several legally independent entities, provided that together they form an economic unit. Within the scope of this economic unit, an innocent parent company is generally liable for the competition infringements of its subsidiaries….