Claims for compensation caused by infringement of competition law are becoming an increasingly common feature of the legal landscape across Europe.
Breaching competition law can cause damage and loss to others: for example, by increasing prices as the result of a cartel, or foreclosing markets by abuse of a dominant position.
Private damages actions in the civil courts – often referred to as "follow-on claims" – are actively encouraged by competition regulators as means of discouraging anti-competitive behaviour. This is in addition to the regulators' own powers to investigate and penalise businesses that breach competition law.
The rise of private claims for damage caused by competition law infringements represents an increased risk for firms that engage in anti-competitive behaviour. But it is also an opportunity for those firms that have suffered damage at the hands of cartelists or dominant players to obtain compensation for their losses.
Our multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional team has cutting edge expertise in litigating these disputes, including in civil courts, specialist tribunals including the UK's specialist Competition Appeal Tribunal and appeal courts (CAT). As well as damages claims, we also have experience acting on behalf of intervening parties, in bringing contribution proceedings against multiple additional parties and in representing clients in large multi-party negotiations.
Whether you're a claimant or a defendant, Fieldfisher will bring a rounded perspective on the best available strategies for maximising the opportunity or minimising the risk in this rapidly developing area of litigation.
Our team works closely with third party funders and ATE insurers and can advise you on funding and de-risking strategies to help you bring claims for compensation.
Fieldfisher is presently advising clients on claims against MasterCard and Visa in respect of interchange fees and claims arising from the European Commission's recent finding of cartel activity by European truck manufacturers.
Notable deals / highlights
- Representing a leading Scandinavian company in its defence of a substantial UK competition damages claim in English court proceedings, together with multiple related contribution claims against other cartelists. A highly advantageous settlement was achieved for the client following a multi-party mediation.
- Following the European Car Glass Cartel decision, we have represented claimants both before the European Court in relation to access to the Commission's file and in the German court in follow-on claims for damage. The European Court confirmed the claimant's position that the Commission has to grant enhanced access to file.
- Acting for a leading European technology company on an intervention in an appeal in the CAT to support Ofgem's finding of abuse of dominance by National Grid. The decision was upheld by the CAT and in the subsequent appeal in the Court of Appeal. The client was then able to bring a follow-on claim for damages in the CAT, settled on advantageous terms following mediation.
- Advising two "non-addressee" airlines on their involvement in UK litigation brought by multiple claimants against addressees of the European Commission's 2010 Air Cargo cartel decision. We successfully, along with other non-addressees of the decision, resisted applications for disclosure of the full confidential version of the European Commission's decision to the claimants' lawyers on the grounds of protection of fundamental rights against self-incrimination, in what is now the leading Court of Appeal ruling on disclosure in follow-on cases.
- Advising defendants to follow-on claims in the German courts arising from the European Commission's finding of a cartel in the steel abrasive sector.
- Representing a retail claimant in follow-on damages claim arising from the German competition authority's flour cartel decision.