Utilities & Cartels

Anticompetitive practices

The French Competition Authority fines household appliance manufacturers for price-fixing (BSH / Candy Hoover / Eberhardt Frères / Electrolux / Indesit / Whirlpool)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 December 2018, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) imposed a total fine of € 189 million on six household appliance manufacturers (BSH, Candy Hoover, Eberhardt Frères, Electrolux, Indesit and Whirlpool) for participating in two distinct cartels. In the first cartel, which lasted from (...)

The Hong Kong Competition Commission publishes a guide to competition ordinance for public sector
Hong Kong Competition Commission
Competition Commission Publishes Handy Guide to Competition Ordinance for Public Sector* The Competition Commission (Commission) today (11 May) published a handy “Guide to Competition Ordinance” (Guide) for the public sector to assist personnel from the government, public bodies and law (...)

The Indian Competition Authority grants penalty reductions to 4 out of 6 members of a cartel guilty of bid rigging public tenders for setting up solid waste processing plants (Nagrik Chetna Manch / Fortified Security Solutions)
Vaish Associates, Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI passes its third leniency decision* The CCI by way of an order dated May 1, 2018 has issued its third leniency order in the case of Nagrik Chetna Manch v. Fortified Security Solutions and Ors. (Case 50 of 2015) in which it granted reduction in penalty to four out of the six leniency (...)

The EU Commission fines two maritime car carriers and four car parts suppliers EUR 546 million in three separate cartel settlements (MOL / NYK / "K" Line / Wwl-Eukor / Csav, Denso / Bosch / NGK / TRW / Continental)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
Four maritime car carriers, two suppliers of spark plugs and two suppliers of braking systems have been fined EUR 395 million, EUR 76 million and EUR 75 million respectively, in the framework of three separate cartel settlement decisions adopted by the European Commission. With regard to the (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority fines companies selling equipment for electricity measurement for cartel (ARC BRAŞOV)
Romanian Competition Council (Bucharest)
1) The Competition Council sanctioned with €1.1 million 3 companies selling equipment for electricity measurement* The Competition Council sanctioned with fines totalling lei 4,947,086.23 (about Euros 1.1 million) three companies for the purpose of reaching an agreement in order to limit the (...)

The Russian Competition Authority opens a proceeding for cartel in the market of supplying gas chromatographs (Chromatec)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS exposed a cartel for supplying gas chromatographs* Actions of “Chromatec” and “Chromatec-Service Yoshkar-Ola” at an auction for the needs of the Federal Drug Control Service resulted in maintaining auction prices Having investigated an antimonopoly case, FAS found that “Chromatec” Special (...)

The EU Court of Justice dismisses appeal in gas insulated switchgear cartel case (Toshiba)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 July 2017, the European Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) dismissed an appeal lodged by Toshiba against a judgment of the General Court (“GC”), which upheld the European Commission’s decision to re-impose nes on Toshiba for its involvement in the gas insulated switchgear cartel. (...)

The Dutch Supreme Court accepts passing-on defense in private enforcement litigation (TenneT/ Gas-insulated Switchgear)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 8 July 2016, the Dutch Supreme Court (“the Court”) handed down a judgment upholding the availability of the passing-on defense in private enforcement litigation. The ruling resulted from a civil claim for damages brought by the electricity company TenneT against the gas-insulated switchgear (...)

The Romanian High Court of Cassation confirms irrevocably the infringement of the competition law by a manufacturer of oil and gas by a participation in a cartel (OMV Petrom)
Romanian Competition Council (Bucharest)
The Competition Council has irrevocably won the trial with OMV PETROM Marketing* The High Court of Cassation and Justice confirmed irrevocably the infringement of the Competition Law by OMV PETROM MARKETING (at the date of infringement called OMV) by participation in a cartel besides other (...)

The EU General Court rejects actions brought against the recalculated fines imposed by the Commission in the gas insulated switchgear cartel (Toshiba / Mitsubishi)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 January 2016, the General Court (“GC”) issued judgments rejecting actions brought by Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric against the recalculated fines amounting to approximately € 136 million imposed by the European Commission in June 2012 for their participation in the gas insulated switchgear (...)

The Russian Competition Authority fines once again an electricity provider for failure to submit information (Vostok)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
“Vostok” Ltd. is fined again for failure to submit information* The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS Russia) imposed an administrative fine upon the General Director of “Vostok” Ltd. (Kyzyl, the Republic of Tyva) for failure to submit information to the federal antimonopoly body (breaching Part 5 (...)

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court upholds that remuneration system applied in the "Irsching contracts" between two electricity providers is in violation of competition law (E.ON / TenneT)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court confirms that the remuneration system applied in the "Irsching contracts" is in violation of competition law* In its decision of 28. April 2015 (see Press Release of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court of 28 April 2015) the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (...)

The Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic refuses to allow judicial review of a dawn raid (Schneider Electric)
Skils (Prague)
On 13 February 2014, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected cassation complaint lodged by Schneider Electric CZ against the judgment of the Regional Court in Brno which rejected a claim that had been submitted previously against the allegedly unlawful dawn raid that had took place at (...)

The AG Kokott of the EU Cout of Justice states that the law of the EU precludes domestic legislation which categorically excludes any civil liability of undertakings belonging to a cartel for umbrella damages (KONE)
CDC Cartel Damage Claims (Brussels)
Advocate General Kokott stated that the law of the European Union precludes the interpretation and application of domestic legislation enacted by a Member State which categorically excludes any civil liability of undertakings belonging to a cartel for loss resulting from the fact that an (...)

The EU Court of Justice dismisses appeals brought against the GIS cartel case (Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
ECJ dismisses appeals by Siemens, Toshiba and Mitsubishi in gas insulated switchgear cartel case* On 19 December 2013, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) handed down a judgment dismissing appeals by Siemens AG, Toshiba Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. against earlier judgments of the (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority declares that a deal over closing down coal power plant is harmful for the consumer
University of Groningen
Sustainable Competition law; Competition Law Kills Coal Closure Plan, Or Does It?* This post concerns a bit of a Dutch thing, namely the ‘position’ of the Dutch National Competition Authority ACM on an agreement by electricity producers active on the Dutch market, but it is interesting more (...)

The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf imposes fines on five members of the liquefied gas cartel or their successor companies (Drachen-Propangas / Propan Rheingas / Westfalen)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court increases fines against liquefied gas cartel* Yesterday the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court imposed fines of 244 million euros on five members of the liquefied gas cartel or their successor companies (ref. VI-4 Kart 2-6/10 OWi). The companies involved are (...)

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court increases fines against liquefied petroleum gas cartel (Friedrich Scharr / Primagas / Krefeld / Progas / Dortmund / Sano-Propan / Nuremberg / Tyczka Totalgaz)
European Commission
Germany: The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court increases Fines against Liquefied Petroleum Gas Cartel* On 16 April 2013, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court - the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (the Court) has imposed fines of € 244 000 000 on five members of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) (...)

The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission imposes record fines on independent power producers for collectively refusing to adjust the rate for wholesale electricity (Gong-Chu-Tzyh)
Chung Yuan Christian University (Taiwan)
Introduction On March 15, 2013, the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission (“TFTC”) imposed a record fine of $213.08 million (NT$6.32 billion) on nine independent power producers (“IPPs”) for collusion after the breakdown of several price renegotiations between the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) and the (...)

The Superior Court of Quebec convicts three individuals for conspiring to fix gas prices in two Quebec cities (R/Gosselin)
Cassels Brock (Toronto)
Gas price fixers convicted after trial* A Quebec Superior Court judge recently convicted three individuals of conspiring to fix gas prices in two Quebec cities, Sherbrooke and Magog. To date 33 individuals and seven companies have been convicted fixing gas prices in Quebec and eastern (...)

The Polish Competition Authority issues a precedent on antitrust assessment of bidding consortia (ASTWA / MPO)
Dentons (Warsaw)
In 2008 the UOKiK Chairperson received a complaint regarding alleged tendering collusion between Przedsiębiorstwo Usługowo – Asenizacyjne ASTWA sp. z o.o. (“ASTWA”) and MPO sp. z o.o. (“MPO”) in respect of a tender organized by Zarząd Mienia Komunalnego in Białystok (“ZMK”) and decided to initiate (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority imposes fines on bid rigging cartel in natural gas pipelines sector (Condmag / Inspet)
European Commission
The Romanian competition authority imposes fines on bid rigging cartel in natural gas pipelines sector* On 17 October 2012, the Romanian Competition Authority (RCC) found that four undertakings had taken part in bid rigging in the framework of two public procurement procedures organised by (...)

The Australian Competition Authority institutes proceedings in Federal Court in Sydney against a forklift gas supply cartel (Renegade Gas)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC court action alleges Sydney forklift gas supply cartel* The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court in Sydney against Renegade Gas Pty Ltd (trading as Supagas NSW, a privately owned company) and Speed-E-Gas (NSW) Pty Ltd (a wholly (...)

The EU Commission re-imposes € 131.6 M fine on Japanese companies over gas insulated switchgear cartel following General Court’s partial annulment (Mitsubishi / Toshiba)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 27 June 2012, the European Commission announced that it had re-imposed a € 131.61 million fine on Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric, after last year’s General Court (“GC”) judgment partially annulling the original decision concerning these companies’ involvement in the gas insulated (...)

The EU Commission fines producers of water management products € 13.7 M in sixth cartel settlement case (Flamco / Reflex / Pneumatex)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 27 June 2012, the European Commission announced that it had fined a number of producers of water management products a total of € 13.7 million for their involvement in an illegal price-fixing cartel in breach of Article 101 TFEU. In its Decision, the Commission found that three (...)

The Italian Competition Authority fines three operators in the Southern Italian electric market for undertaking a concerted practice aimed at sharing the market for certain dispatch services (Repower Italy Dispatch Price)
Economisti Associati (Bologna)
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LUISS Guido Carli University (Rome)
Three electricity generators active in the Southern Italian area - Repower Italia S.p.A., EGL Italia S.p.A. and Tirreno Power S.p.A. - have been sanctioned by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Italian Competition Authority - ICA) for undertaking a concerted practice in (...)

The European Court of Justice renders a judgment on a Czech preliminary reference in the gas insulated switchgear case - Ruling’s likely implications on parallel proceedings within the ECN and on the principle of ne bis in idem (Toshiba)
Hong Kong Competition Commission
Upcoming judgment in case C-17/10 Toshiba and Others to shed light on the question of parallel proceedings within the ECN* On 14 February, the Court of Justice will deliver a ruling on a preliminary reference by a Czech Regional Court in Brno, which is likely to provide welcome guidance on the (...)

The US DoJ obtains guilty plea by two Japanese suppliers of automotive electrical components imposing a $548 M fine for their involvement in price fixing and bid rigging conspiracies in the auto parts sales (Automotive component suppliers’ cartel)
Wolters Kluwer (Riverwoods)
Fines Mounting in Department of Justice Auto Parts Cartel Investigation* The Department of Justice today announced a total of $548 million in fines resulting from a second round of charges in the government’s ongoing investigation into collusive activity in the auto parts industry. Two more (...)

EU Court of Justice Advocate General Kokott renders her opinion in the Czech gas insulated switchgear case holding that the principle ne bis in idem does not preclude NCAs from prosecuting the same cartel with respect to different territories or periods (Toshiba)
DG COMP (Brussels)
AG Kokott’s Opinion in Toshiba: framing the application of the ne bis in idem principle in EU competition law enforcement* One of the main concerns raised by the decentralization of EU competition law enforcement related to the risk of different competition authorities prosecuting and (...)

The EU General Court partially annuls fines imposed on Japanese participants in gas insulated switchgear cartel (Hitachi / Toshiba / Mitsubishi / Fuji)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 12 July 2011, the General Court (“GC”) handed down its judgments in four appeals brought by addressees of the European Commission’s gas insulated switchgear cartel decision. In its underlying decision, the Commission found that manufacturers of gas switchgear used to insulate electrical (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal narrows the scope of follow-on claims (Emerson Electric / Carbone)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
This article has been nominated by the Business Steering Committee for the business category, general antitrust section of the 2012 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On March 21, 2011, the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal (the “CAT”) struck (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority fines road transport forwarding agents cartel (Blue Water Shipping España / DHL Express Barcelona Spain / Deutsche Post...)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
According to a press release of 5 August 2010, the Spanish Competition Authority has fined seven undertakings active as road transport forwarding agents for entering into a price-fixing cartel concerning cross-border road transport. The undertakings involved were Blue Water Shipping España, DHL (...)

The EU Commission fines two gas companies € 553 M each for market-sharing cartel (E.ON / GDF Suez)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 8 July 2008, the Commission announced that it had imposed fines totalling € 1.106 billion on E.ON and its subsidiary E.ON Ruhrgas and on GDF Suez for their participation in a market-sharing cartel that operated in the French and German gas markets between 1975 and 2005 in breach of Article 81 (...)

The Budapest Court of Appeals rejects an appeal concerning a global cartel in the gas insulated switchgear market (Alstom / Siemens)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Budapest Court of Appeals has recently confirmed a judgment of the Budapest Metropolitan Court in a case brought by Siemens Aktiengesellschaft Österreich (Austria), Alstom Holding S.A. (France) and Siemens AG (Germany) concerning a global cartel in the gas insulated switchgear market. The (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice confirms the approach taken by the Federal Cartel Office regarding long-term gas supply agreements (Gaslieferverträge)
Hengeler Mueller (Dusseldorf)
I. Background The practice of long term gas supply agreements with purchase obligations of more than 80% within the German gas sector has been discussed and questioned over a long period of time, in particular in respect to a infringement of competition law. In 2006, the German Federal Cartel (...)

The Italian Competition Authority investigates the coordination of prices by three gas suppliers in violation of Art. 81 EC (Prezzo del GPL per riscaldamento regione Sardegna)
Codacons (Rome)
Following the notice about the cartel in relation to fixing the price of GPL gas, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA), has decided to investigate the conducts of the three main Italian suppliers of gas. The ICA, was made aware that ButanGas, Eni and Liquigas (the three gas suppliers) were (...)

The Czech Regional Court in Brno scraps fine for gas-insulated switchgear cartel
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 25 June 2008, the Regional Court in Brno annulled the decision of the Czech Competition Authority imposing fines on members of a gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) cartel. On 9 February 2007, the Czech Competition Authority imposed a fine amounting to CZK 979.221 million (approximately € 35 (...)

The Czech Regional Court in Brno cancels the decision of the President of the Office for the Protection of Competition concerning a well-known, long-running international cartel operating within the sector of gas insulated switchgears on the grounds of breaching the legal principle of ne bis in idem (GIS Cartel)
Weinhold Legal
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CMS Cameron McKenna (Prague)
I. Introduction On 26 June 2008, the Regional Court in Brno cancelled the decision of the President of the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (the „Office«) concerning a well-known, long-running international cartel operating within the sector of gas insulated switchgears («GIS»). (...)

The Slovak Competition Authority fines gas insulated switchgear cartel and applies leniency rules for the first time (ABB Group / Schneider Electric)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 21 January 2008, the Slovak Antimonopoly Office imposed a fine of SKK 350 million (approximately € 10 million) on sixteen companies from Austria, Germany, the Switzerland, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan for participating in a cartel for gas insulated switchgear (GIS). The product (...)

The German FCO imposes heavy fines on seven liquid gas companies (Drachen-Propangas / Friedrich Scharr / Progas / Primagas / Sano-Proban / Tyczka Energie / Tyczka Totalgaz)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
In December 2007, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) imposed fines totalling almost € 208 million on seven companies active in the liquid gas sector and their managers for participating in an anti-competitive customer-sharing arrangement. The companies concerned, which represent (...)

The Czech Competition Authority inflicts a record fines of 35 M € in the gas insulated switchgears market in spite of leniency ("GIS cartel")
Czech Ministry of Justice (Prague)
On 9 February 2007, the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (the «Office») rendered a decision in the gas insulated switchgears («GIS») cartel case, imposing fines of a total amount of CZK 979 million (€ 35 million approx.) on the manufacturers. The cartel, which has been investigated by (...)

The EU Commission fines a cartel in the gas insulated switchgear sector
DG COMP (Brussels)
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DG COMP (Brussels)
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Hong Kong Competition Commission
"Cartel fined in the gas insulated switchgear sector"* On 24 January the Commission adopted a prohibition Decision against members of the Gas Insulated Switchgear cartel with fines totalling some €750 million. The cartel from 1989 until the Commission’s inspections in May 2004, and was nearly (...)

The Court of Appeal of Düsseldorf prohibits long term gas supply agreements between the incumbent and regional and local distributors on the bases of both Art. 81, 82 EC and German competition law (E.ON Ruhrgas)
Hengeler Mueller (Dusseldorf)
I. Background The practice of long term gas supply agreements with purchase obligations of more than 80% of the gas distributors’ demand within the German gas sector have been discussed and questioned over a long period of time, especially in respect to a violation of competition law. In a (...)

The German Federal Cartel Office issues a statement of objections against Germany’s major gas company with the aim of prohibiting certain long term supply agreements with regional and local gas distributors that violate European and German competition law (E.ON Ruhrgas)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
In its ongoing efforts to open the German wholesale market to new gas suppliers, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) issued a statement of objections against E.ON Ruhrgas (“E.ON”), Germany’s largest gas supplier, in December 2005. According to this statement of objections and the preliminary (...)

The Swedish Supreme Court declares that a concerted practice cannot be subject to nullity under section 7 of the [former] Swedish Competition Act (Boliden Mineral Aktiebolag / AB Fortum Värme samägt med Stockholms stad)
Vinge (Stockholm)
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Svea hovrätt (Swedish courts)
Background In December 1992, Boliden Mineral Aktiebolag (“Boliden”) concluded an agreement with Korsnäs Aktiebolag (“Korsnäs”), in which Boliden undertook to purchase its entire requirement of electricity for a mining facility. A standard form agreement was attached to the aforementioned agreement. (...)

Procedures

The EU General Court rules on challenges to the dawn raids carried out by the Commission in the electrical cables sector (Nexans, Prysmian)
Novartis (Brussels)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Brussels)
1. Introduction During the course of 2012 there have been various developments at the EU level in relation to the unannounced inspections or "dawn raids" regularly conducted by the Commission in competition law cases. The General Court has ruled on challenges to the dawn raids carried out by (...)

The Osaka District Court orders the Japan Fair Trade Commission to submit documents in relation to a shareholder derivative suit (Sumitomo Electric)
Nishimura & Asahi (Tokyo)
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Nishimura & Asahi (Tokyo)
On July 15, 2012, the Osaka District Court ordered the Japan Fair Trade Commission (the “JFTC”) to submit (i) written statements of employees of Sumitomo Electric Industries (“Sumitomo Electric”) and (ii) Sumitomo Electric’s report to the JFTC in relation to the shareholder derivative suit against (...)

The European Court of Justice rules on parallel enforcement under Regulation 1/2003 while declining to redefine ne bis in idem within the ECN (Toshiba)
University Paris Dauphine
I. Introduction 1.Against most expectations, the particularly awaited judgment of the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in Toshiba, delivered in Grand Chamber on 14 February 2012 , did not provide a landmark ruling on the scope of the ne bis in idem principle (the European double jeopardy clause) in (...)

The English High Court grants disclosure of documents obtained by access to the Commission’s file in a follow-on damages action in the switchgear cartel (Gas Insulated Switchgear - GIS)
DLA Piper (London)
In its judgment of 4 July 2011 the English High Court of Justice granted the application for disclosure of documents obtained by access to the Commission’s file in a follow-on damages action for breach of Article 101 TFEU in the Gas Insulated Switchgear (“GIS”) cartel. However, considering the (...)

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