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Antitrust Lawsuits Being Encouraged By European Commission

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

22 December 2005


The European Commission on Tuesday published a Green Paper on how to facilitate actions for damages caused by violations of EC Treaty competition rules’ ban on restrictive business practices and abuse of dominant market positions.

The Commission explained that:

"Violations of these rules, in particular by price fixing cartels, can cause considerable damage to companies and consumers but numerous obstacles can hinder actions for damages by injured parties in national courts."

"The Green Paper identifies certain of these obstacles, such as access to evidence and the quantification of damages, and presents various options for debate for their removal."

"The options set out in the Green Paper would seek to ensure that companies and consumers were compensated for their losses, while avoiding vexatious claims."

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes observed that: “Businesses and individuals who suffer losses because of illegal activities such as cartels have a right to compensation. Currently, this right is all too often theoretical because of obstacles to exercising this right in practice. This Green Paper sets out options for making that right a reality, and so making companies that break the competition rules pay for the harm that they do.”

According to the EC, strengthening damages claims by companies and consumers will have several advantages, namely that:

It ensures that businesses and consumers harmed by anti-competitive activity are compensated for their losses;
It enhances the overall level of respect for the EC competition rules by discouraging companies from engaging in anti-competitive activity;

Comments from interested parties are invited until Friday 21 April, 2006.


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