Antitrust Litigation Group
European and national antitrust authorities have become increasingly vigilant in the enforcement of competition laws. Under the leadership of Commissioner Neelie Kroes, the European Commission has focused its attention on the fight against ‘hardcore cartels’.
In the meantime, the European Commission has launched a political campaign to facilitate antitrust damage claims. In the Commission’s view, ‘private enforcement’ should help deter anti-competitive conduct. In a 2008 White Paper, the Commission proposed a framework of measures to remedy perceived ‘obstacles to effective antitrust damages actions’.
The European Commission’s efforts appear to have increased awareness of antitrust damage claims in the market. In the Netherlands, we are seeing an increasing volume of antitrust litigation. Similar developments have been reported in other European Member States:
- In Germany in 2004 alone, 240 court decisions were reported that addressed claims of competition law violations;
- In a 2007 Impact Study conducted for the European Commission, the authors identified 96 European antitrust damage suits between 2004 and 2007. This represents a significant increase from the findings in the 2004 study, which identified 60 cases since 1962;
- Leading by example, in 2008 the Commission itself launched a multi-million euro lawsuit against the largest producers of elevators, based on the allegation that it paid too much for the elevators installed in its office buildings.
These observations paint only a partial picture of the actual developments in the area. In practice, it is our experience that most antitrust damage disputes are resolved confidentially.
At Stibbe, we are convinced that antitrust litigation cannot be handled properly without expertise in both competition law and civil litigation (and, where appropriate, labor law, criminal law and corporate law). To ensure the highest level of service to our clients, expert attorneys from our litigation and competition law practices have teamed up to form one, integrated group that specializes in defending clients against antitrust damage claims.