The International Handbook on Private Enforcement of Competition Law

The International Handbook on Private Enforcement of Competition Law

Elgar original reference

Edited by Albert A. Foer and Jonathan W. Cuneo

With the international community on the brink of an explosion of private remedies for violation of national competition laws, this timely Handbook provides state-of-the-art analysis of the private enforcement of competition laws across the globe. Private enforcement of antitrust is becoming a significant component of competition policy laws worldwide; today, more than a hundred jurisdictions have adopted market regimes operating within a framework of competition law, providing a varied base for developing ways by which persons injured by anticompetitive conduct will (or will not) be able to obtain remedies.

Chapter 15: Overview of Europe

Bojana Vrcek

Subjects: law - academic, competition and antitrust law, law -professional, competition and antitrust law


Bojana Vrcek1 Introduction Private antitrust litigation in Europe is undergoing an important evolution toward the provision of actions for damages, but there is significant variation in practice among the nations, even where laws already exist. Almost none of the European jurisdictions have mechanisms in place to make damages actions effective. None of the EU Member States has active private enforcement for collective redress. Rules regarding access to evidence, pre-trial discovery, and statutes of limitations are mixed, but overall are not very helpful for private antitrust claimants. The concrete success on the EU level has been achieved due to steady efforts made by the European Commission, which recognized that competition policy is more than imposing fines and breaking cartels.2 Fines do not deliver compensation for the harm suffered by victims, and therefore effective private remedies are needed for redress to be awarded by the national courts. The European Commission supported an external study3 which analyzed whether and which national legal orders provide for private damages actions. The study found that between May 1, 2004, and the end of 2007, 96 damages actions were filed in the EU Member States. Those were concentrated in only ten Member States. Sixty-one of those cases related to vertical restrictions, and none of the 96 resulted in damages being awarded. On the other hand, between January, 1990, and November, 2008, there were 516 ‘formal official investigations’ of suspected international cartels, with the most affected sales occurring in the European Union.4 Presumably, cartels are creating huge overcharges...

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