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Focus Antitrust - 16 April 2014

In the News

ECJ delivers judgments in appeals in gas insulated switchgear cartel case

The ECJ has delivered its judgments on appeals by Areva/Alstom, Siemens Transmission & Distribution and the European Commission against the General Court’s judgments on the Commission's gas insulated switchgear cartel decision.

In the Areva/Alstom appeal, the ECJ held that both the General Court and the Commission, by imposing de facto joint and several liability on Areva and Alstom, (the successive parent companies of a subsidiary that had participated in the cartel), had taken the wrong approach, breaching the principle of legal certainty and the principle that the penalty must be specific to the offender and the offence.

Instead, they should have imposed separate fines covering the two periods when each of Areva and Alstom was the parent company.

The ECJ also considered that the General Court had wrongly found that it is exclusively for the Commission to determine the share of the fine to be paid by companies that are joint and severally liable, and had erred in varying the fines imposed jointly and severally on certain Siemens' subsidiaries and Schneider.


Article 101
  • The ECJ has published an order on a reference from a Spanish court questioning the application of Regulation 2790/1999 (the old vertical agreements block exemption regulation) to a pre-existing non-compete clause. The ECJ considered that under the transitional scheme provided for by Article 12(2) of Regulation 2790/1999, a contract in force on 31 May 2000 that includes a non-compete clause and meets the conditions for exemption of Regulation 1984/83 (the old exclusive purchasing block exemption) but not those of Regulation 2790/1999 remains outside the scope of application of Article 101(1) until the expiry of the transitional period (31 December 2001).


UK Courts
  • The Court of Appeal has dismissed Akzo Nobel’s appeal against a CAT judgment that upheld the CC's decision to prohibit the acquisition by Akzo Nobel of sole control of Metlac Holding. The Court of Appeal did not consider that the CAT or the CC had erred in finding that Akzo Nobel carries on business in the UK and accordingly, the CC had jurisdiction to make an enforcement order against Akzo Nobel (a Dutch company) to prohibit its acquisition of further shares in Metlac (an Italian company). The Court of Appeal concluded that for a company to be seen to be “carrying on business” in the UK, it is not required to have a presence in the UK; the fact that the parent company conducts strategic and operational management of a UK business amounts to the parent company carrying on business in the UK, even it conducts its management role offshore.
  • The CMA has published a webpage that gives guidance on the role, scope and process for raising issues with the Procedural Officer in Competition Act 1998 investigations.
  • The CMA has published an explanatory note on its approach to the Phase 1 assessment of water mergers.

This article was written by Paul Stone.  

For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5110 or paul.stone@crsblaw.com