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Utvecklingen av skadeståndssanktionen i EU:s konkurrensrätt – no guts no glory

Aarestrup Vind, Nina LU (2010) JUR091 20102
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Trots tydlig rättspraxis och en stark politisk vilja att säkra rätten för varje enskild eller företag som lidit skada vid brott mot EU:s konkurrensregler – i synnerhet artiklarna 101 och 102 Fördraget om Europeiska unionens funktionssätt (EUF) - att kunna söka kompensation, så har det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet inte fått något större genomslag. Europakommissionen (”Kommissionen”) har med andra ord ännu inte lyckats skapa ett effektivt rättsligt ramverk för att tillförsäkra skadelidande rätten till skadestånd.

Uppsatsens syftar till att redogöra för utvecklingen av det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet, den s.k. privata övervakningen, samt att föra en rättspolitisk analys av problematiken kring detta ämne och ställer i ljuset av... (More)
Trots tydlig rättspraxis och en stark politisk vilja att säkra rätten för varje enskild eller företag som lidit skada vid brott mot EU:s konkurrensregler – i synnerhet artiklarna 101 och 102 Fördraget om Europeiska unionens funktionssätt (EUF) - att kunna söka kompensation, så har det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet inte fått något större genomslag. Europakommissionen (”Kommissionen”) har med andra ord ännu inte lyckats skapa ett effektivt rättsligt ramverk för att tillförsäkra skadelidande rätten till skadestånd.

Uppsatsens syftar till att redogöra för utvecklingen av det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet, den s.k. privata övervakningen, samt att föra en rättspolitisk analys av problematiken kring detta ämne och ställer i ljuset av detta följande frågor: (1) Kommer Kommissionen att uppnå målet med en ökat privaträttslig övervakning; (2) Finns det inte utrymme för en privat övervakning av EG: s konkurrensregler på ett praktiskt plan trots alla ansträngningar och incitament som gjorts på ett teoretiskt plan och vari ligger problemet och; (3)Vad ligger bakom Kommissionens komplexa förhållande till skadeståndssanktionen i den amerikanska antitrusträtten och innebär det ständiga sneglandet till andra sidan Atlanten en begränsning av den fortsatta utvecklingen av EU-rättens skadeståndstalan.
Skadeståndssanktionen utvecklades under lång tid i rättspraxis. 1974 konstaterade Europeiska unionens domstol (EU-domstolen) att EG-fördragets konkurrensregler, artikel 81 och 82 i EG-fördraget (numera artikel 101 och 102 i - fördraget om Europeiska unionens funktionssätt - EUF) har direkt effekt d.v.s. kan åberopas direkt av enskilda inför nationell domstol. Det skulle dock dröja tills 2001 och landmark fallet Courage innan EU-domstolen tydligt konkluderade att det fanns en direkt på EU-rätten baserad rätt till skadestånd vid konkurrensöverträdelser och konstaterade den fulla verkan av konkurrensreglerna skulle kunna ifrågasättas om inte varje person kunde begära ersättning för en skada denne åsamkats genom en konkurrensöverträdelse (vilket sedan även bekräftats i Manfredi-fallet).

Kommissionens ansträngningar för att skapa incitament för enskilda att föra skadeståndstalan vid brott mot EU:s konkurrensregler fick ny fart i och med moderniseringsreformen och avskaffandet av Kommissionens exklusiva kompetens att meddela undantag enligt art 101.1 och 102 EUF.

Ikraftträdandet av förordning 1/2003 tog bort ett stort hinder i förhållande till de nationella domstolarnas tillämpning av EU:s konkurrensregler.

Förordningen var ett steg i rätt riktning men inte nog för att tillförsäkra en effektiv privat övervakning. 2004 konstaterades det i en rapport från advokatbyrån Ashurst på uppdrag av Kommissionen att trots det klara rättsläget i praxis var skadeståndssanktionen vid brott mot EU:s konkurrensregler ”klart underutvecklad” i EU:s medlemsstater och Kommissionen påbörjade därför arbetet med en ”Grönbok om skadeståndstalan vid brott mot EG:s antitrustregler” som publicerades 2005. Syftet med Grönboken var att skapa ytterligare incitament för skadelindande vid konkurrensbrott att föra civilrättslig skadeståndstalan. Grönboken följdes av Kommissionens ”Vitbok om skadeståndstalan vid brott mot EG:s antitrustregler” från 2008 där Kommissionen presenterade en rad förslag i syfte att införa en fungerande rättslig ram för att omsätta rätten till skadestånd i faktiska ersättningsmöjligheter för skadelidande. I Vitboken diskuteras, bland annat, kollektiv talan, tillgång till bevis, definitionen av skada, det att tidigare offentligrättsliga beslut skall ha bindande verkan i en efterföljande skadeståndprocess, godtagande av både offensiv och defensiv övervältring och förlängning av preskriptionstiderna. Tanken är att introducera de minimis krav som skall gälla i samtliga medlemsländer och på så sätt garantera effektivitet och fullt genomslag för rätten till kompensation i mål om skadestånd vid brott mot konkurrensreglerna i enighet med EU-domstolens Courage-dom.

Vitboken fick ett relativt svalt mottagande och under remissförfarandet framgick det att flera av medlemsstaterna ställde sig kritiska till en rad initiativ vilket tyder på att Kommissionen har en lång väg kvar att gå innan man når sin ambition. Denna analys understryks av det faktum att den tidigare Kommissionären för konkurrens, Neelie Kroes, tvingades dra tillbaka ett utkast till direktiv om det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet kort tid innan det skulle göras offentligt efter att det blev starkt kritiserat av flera parter inklusive Europaparlamentet och flera medlemsländer.

Det senaste i raden av initiativ från Kommissionen är en offentlig konsultation som gäller kollektiv talan och som pågår från november 2010 till februari 2011. Kommissionären för konkurrens, Joaquín Almunia, menar att ett effektivt ramverk för kollektiv talan är en förutsättning för en ökad privat övervakning. När väl detta är på plats avser han att presentera ett direktivförslag om det konkurrensrättsliga skadeståndet hösten 2011 där det framläggs gemensamma standarder och de minimis krav på medlemsstaternas skadeståndsanktioner vid konkurrensbrott som därefter skall införas i respektive medlemsstat i enighet med det landets rättsliga traditioner. Almunia sade i ett tal nyligen att “All EU citizens and businesses should enjoy the right to obtain compensation for damages caused by a breach of EU law. But in reality, their rights depend on where they live in Europe. About half of the Member States don't have any form of collective action, and even where this right is recognised, its use is very diverse both in scope and effectiveness” vilket påminner om konklusionerna i Ashurst rapporten och tyder på att Kommissionen fortfarande har en lång väg att gå i sina ansträngningar för att främja den privata övervakningen. (Less)
Abstract
Despite the clear view of the European Commission (“the Commission”) and the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) that any citizen or business suffering harm following a breach of the EU competition rules - in particular Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Market (TFEU) - should be able to obtain damages from the infringing party, to this date, damages have only rarely been awarded. The Commission has in other words, despite the best of intentions, still not managed to ensure an effective legal framework that allows for the injured party to be fully compensated for competition law infringements.

Against this background, this paper pose three main questions; (1) Will the Commission ever succeed in its... (More)
Despite the clear view of the European Commission (“the Commission”) and the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) that any citizen or business suffering harm following a breach of the EU competition rules - in particular Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Market (TFEU) - should be able to obtain damages from the infringing party, to this date, damages have only rarely been awarded. The Commission has in other words, despite the best of intentions, still not managed to ensure an effective legal framework that allows for the injured party to be fully compensated for competition law infringements.

Against this background, this paper pose three main questions; (1) Will the Commission ever succeed in its quest for an increased private enforcement of EU’ competition rules; (2) Wherein lies the problem that despite a longstanding development of various incitements – including jurisprudence and policy documents - private enforcement to this date remains underdeveloped, and; (3) What lies behind the Commission’s ambiguous relationship with regard to the US private enforcement and does the seemingly desire for the Commission to distinguish itself from the US system hamper the EU development in this field.

The paper describes the development of the private enforcement regime of EU’s competition rules from a case-law perspective and from a policy/political perspective.

In 1974 the ECJ ruled that Articles 81 and 82 EC (currently Articles 101 and 102 TFEU) produce so called direct effects in relationships between individuals and that these rights have to be safeguarded by the national courts. However, it would take until 2001 and the landmark Courage-case (and more recently in the Manfredi-case) for the ECJ to clearly conclude that the existence of claims for damages for breach of competition rules strengthen the effectiveness of these rules and discourage agreements or practices which potentially restrict or distort competition.

The Commission’s view that private enforcement plays an important role in complementing the public enforcement gained new momentum after the modernisation of the EU competition law. As part of the modernisation reform, Regulation1/2003 EC was introduced laying the groundwork for a further use of a more decentralised and private enforcement of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. The Regulation had some but not sufficient impact when it came to increasing the private enforcement regime.

Private enforcement of EU competition rules through private damages actions was found to be in a state of “total underdevelopment” in a study carried out in 2004 for the Commission. Against this background, the Commission presented in 2005 a Green Paper on “damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules”. The purpose of this initiative was to further foster private enforcement by victims of anti-competitive behaviour.

The Green Paper was subsequently followed by a White Paper in 2008 where the Commission presented a number of proposals on how to strengthen the legal framework in order to effectively enhance private actions for damages. These proposals include, inter alia, collective redress, access to evidence, definition of damages, limitation periods, and the interaction between actions for damages and public leniency programs. The aim was to formulate a minimum standard of rules applicable throughout the EU and thereby ensure the full effectiveness of the right to damages, as required by the ECJ in the Courage case.

The responses to the White Paper have not been overwhelmingly positive and several of the EU Member States have demonstrated a reluctance to accept the Commission’s proposals. This indicates that there still might be a long way ahead for the Commission to reach its ambitions in this field. This view was confirmed when the previous Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, had to redraw a proposed Directive regarding actions for damages shortly before it was due to be published as the negative backlash was deemed to forceful.

The latest development with regard to the private enforcement of EU’s competition rules is an initiative by the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia. He has recently stated in a speech that “All EU citizens and businesses should enjoy the right to obtain compensation for damages caused by a breach of EU law. But in reality, their rights depend on where they live in Europe. About half of the Member States don't have any form of collective action, and even where this right is recognised, its use is very diverse both in scope and effectiveness” signalling – once again - that the goals are far from reached. Therefore, the Commission recently launched a public consultation regarding collective redress that runs from November 2010 until the end of February 2011. According to the Commissioner, a common system of effective collective redress rules across Europe is a prerequisite for an enhanced private enforcement. Almunia intends to present a draft Directive on antitrust damages actions set for the second half of 2011. The initiative is aimed at setting common standards and minimum requirements for national systems of antitrust damages actions that should be transposed by Member States into practice according to their respective legal traditions. No doubt, the Commissioner will face major challenges in this task.

This paper concludes in relation to the first question that although the path towards achieving the goal of an effective private enforcement through actions for damages in the EU follows a “one step forward – two steps back” procedure - the slow but yet steady progress of the private enforcement regime indicates that the Commission is relentlessly striving to reach its goal. The new initiatives taken by the Commission should be seen as an attempt to invigorate the process and will in the view of this author mean that reluctant Member States will come under increased pressure to introduce measures deemed necessary by the Commission to enhance private enforcement. In other words private enforcement is perhaps still underdeveloped but eventually it would seem likely that it will play a more significant role for enforcement of the EU competition rules.

With regard to the second question the paper concludes that one of the main challenges forward will be to get the Member States to back the Commission’s initiatives in the White Paper and accept that an enhanced private enforcement of the EU competition law requires specific rules which differ from the general principles of civil law and existing legal standards in the EU Member States. So far, based on the hearing procedure and general debate, there seems to be a lack in the Member States’ political will to compromise in this field. The Commission and Commissioner Almunia risk, yet again, that entrenched negative positions will stand in the way of the immediate path forward.

Building on a comprehensive practical experience with actions for antitrust damages, the paper finally argues with regard to the third question, that the US could provide valuable lessons with its vast arsenal of procedural mechanisms such as class actions, opt-out proceedings, treble damages, jury trial, pre-trial discovery and contingency fees. At first glance it seems nothing but consequent to introduce similar instruments in Europe. However, for constitutional and traditional reasons, and given the fear of excessive litigation, stakeholders in Europe are generally opposed to the ‘US litigation culture’ which – according to the paper - hampers the EU development in this field. (Less)
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author
Aarestrup Vind, Nina LU
supervisor
organization
course
JUR091 20102
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Konkurrensrätt
language
Swedish
id
1747033
date added to LUP
2010-12-20 10:49:46
date last changed
2010-12-20 10:49:46
@misc{1747033,
  abstract     = {Despite the clear view of the European Commission (“the Commission”) and the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) that any citizen or business suffering harm following a breach of the EU competition rules - in particular Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Market (TFEU) - should be able to obtain damages from the infringing party, to this date, damages have only rarely been awarded. The Commission has in other words, despite the best of intentions, still not managed to ensure an effective legal framework that allows for the injured party to be fully compensated for competition law infringements. 

Against this background, this paper pose three main questions; (1) Will the Commission ever succeed in its quest for an increased private enforcement of EU’ competition rules; (2) Wherein lies the problem that despite a longstanding development of various incitements – including jurisprudence and policy documents - private enforcement to this date remains underdeveloped, and; (3) What lies behind the Commission’s ambiguous relationship with regard to the US private enforcement and does the seemingly desire for the Commission to distinguish itself from the US system hamper the EU development in this field.

The paper describes the development of the private enforcement regime of EU’s competition rules from a case-law perspective and from a policy/political perspective. 

In 1974 the ECJ ruled that Articles 81 and 82 EC (currently Articles 101 and 102 TFEU) produce so called direct effects in relationships between individuals and that these rights have to be safeguarded by the national courts. However, it would take until 2001 and the landmark Courage-case (and more recently in the Manfredi-case) for the ECJ to clearly conclude that the existence of claims for damages for breach of competition rules strengthen the effectiveness of these rules and discourage agreements or practices which potentially restrict or distort competition. 

The Commission’s view that private enforcement plays an important role in complementing the public enforcement gained new momentum after the modernisation of the EU competition law. As part of the modernisation reform, Regulation1/2003 EC was introduced laying the groundwork for a further use of a more decentralised and private enforcement of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. The Regulation had some but not sufficient impact when it came to increasing the private enforcement regime. 

Private enforcement of EU competition rules through private damages actions was found to be in a state of “total underdevelopment” in a study carried out in 2004 for the Commission. Against this background, the Commission presented in 2005 a Green Paper on “damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules”. The purpose of this initiative was to further foster private enforcement by victims of anti-competitive behaviour. 

The Green Paper was subsequently followed by a White Paper in 2008 where the Commission presented a number of proposals on how to strengthen the legal framework in order to effectively enhance private actions for damages. These proposals include, inter alia, collective redress, access to evidence, definition of damages, limitation periods, and the interaction between actions for damages and public leniency programs. The aim was to formulate a minimum standard of rules applicable throughout the EU and thereby ensure the full effectiveness of the right to damages, as required by the ECJ in the Courage case. 

The responses to the White Paper have not been overwhelmingly positive and several of the EU Member States have demonstrated a reluctance to accept the Commission’s proposals. This indicates that there still might be a long way ahead for the Commission to reach its ambitions in this field. This view was confirmed when the previous Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, had to redraw a proposed Directive regarding actions for damages shortly before it was due to be published as the negative backlash was deemed to forceful.

The latest development with regard to the private enforcement of EU’s competition rules is an initiative by the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia. He has recently stated in a speech that “All EU citizens and businesses should enjoy the right to obtain compensation for damages caused by a breach of EU law. But in reality, their rights depend on where they live in Europe. About half of the Member States don't have any form of collective action, and even where this right is recognised, its use is very diverse both in scope and effectiveness” signalling – once again - that the goals are far from reached. Therefore, the Commission recently launched a public consultation regarding collective redress that runs from November 2010 until the end of February 2011. According to the Commissioner, a common system of effective collective redress rules across Europe is a prerequisite for an enhanced private enforcement. Almunia intends to present a draft Directive on antitrust damages actions set for the second half of 2011. The initiative is aimed at setting common standards and minimum requirements for national systems of antitrust damages actions that should be transposed by Member States into practice according to their respective legal traditions. No doubt, the Commissioner will face major challenges in this task.

This paper concludes in relation to the first question that although the path towards achieving the goal of an effective private enforcement through actions for  damages in the EU follows a “one step forward – two steps back” procedure - the slow but yet steady progress of the private enforcement regime indicates that the Commission is relentlessly striving to reach its goal. The new initiatives taken by the Commission should be seen as an attempt to invigorate the process and will in the view of this author mean that reluctant Member States will come under increased pressure to introduce measures deemed necessary by the Commission to enhance private enforcement. In other words private enforcement is perhaps still underdeveloped but eventually it would seem likely that it will play a more significant role for enforcement of the EU competition rules. 

With regard to the second question the paper concludes that one of the main challenges forward will be to get the Member States to back the Commission’s initiatives in the White Paper and accept that an enhanced private enforcement of the EU competition law requires specific rules which differ from the general principles of civil law and existing legal standards in the EU Member States. So far, based on the hearing procedure and general debate, there seems to be a lack in the Member States’ political will to compromise in this field. The Commission and Commissioner Almunia risk, yet again, that entrenched negative positions will stand in the way of the immediate path forward.

Building on a comprehensive practical experience with actions for antitrust damages, the paper finally argues with regard to the third question, that the US could provide valuable lessons with its vast arsenal of procedural mechanisms such as class actions, opt-out proceedings, treble damages, jury trial, pre-trial discovery and contingency fees. At first glance it seems nothing but consequent to introduce similar instruments in Europe. However, for constitutional and traditional reasons, and given the fear of excessive litigation, stakeholders in Europe are generally opposed to the ‘US litigation culture’ which – according to the paper - hampers the EU development in this field.},
  author       = {Aarestrup Vind, Nina},
  keyword      = {Konkurrensrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Utvecklingen av skadeståndssanktionen i EU:s konkurrensrätt – no guts no glory},
  year         = {2010},
}