In its 10 November 2014 press release, the European Commission announces the formal adoption by the EU Council of Ministers of its proposal for a Directive on antitrust damages actions in cases of infringement of the antitrust law (hereinafter referred to as the “Directive”).
The Directive will help citizens and companies to claim damages whenever they become victims of infringements of the EU antitrust rules (e.g. in the case of cartels or abuses of dominant market positions).
Among other things, the Directive will provide victims with easier access to the evidence which they need to prove the inflicted damage, as well as with a longer time interval within which they may claim damages.
The major improvements introduced by the Directive refer, inter alia, to:
- The possibility for national courts of law to request companies to disclose information / furnish probative evidence whenever victims claim damages. Courts will see to it that the requests for disclosure of information are compliant with the proportionality principle and that confidential information is duly protected;
- The fact that the final decision of a national competition authority, stating that antitrust rules have been infringed, shall per se be evidence of infringement before the courts of law in the same Member State in which the infringement has occurred;
- The statute of limitations: victims may benefit from at least one (1) year to claim damages, calculated from the date on which the decision on infringement rendered by a competition authority has become final;
- In the event that an infringement has caused price increases which have been taken on / passed along the distribution chain, those who suffered the harm in the end will be entitled to claim compensation;
- Consensual settlements between victims and infringing companies will be easier reached, allowing for a faster and less costly resolution of disputes.
The Directive is expected to be formally signed during the European Parliament’s plenary session by the end of November 2014. After being signed, the Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will come into force 20 days after its publication date.
The Member States of the European Union will have two (2) years to implement this Directive, calculated from the date its entry into force.
LEGAL ALERT by Duncea, Stefanescu & Associates
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