LEGAL PRACTICE: PROCEDURES - EUROPEAN UNION - DAMAGES ACTIONS - LIMITATION PERIODS

Limitation periods in competition law damages actions in the EU: Are further clarification and harmonisation needed?

This article discusses the limitation periods within which victims of a competition law infringement can bring an action for damages in the European Union. Firstly, it addresses the evolution of the European rules in this regard since 2005. Secondly, it provides an overview of the limitation periods (pre and post Damages Directive) in five EU Member States where victims of competition law infringements have brought a significant number of damages actions, or seem inclined to bring increasingly more damages actions; Belgium, England and Wales, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Thirdly, it identifies some inconsistencies and shortcomings in both the EU and national laws (post Damages Directive) and suggests some amendments in the EU or national (case) laws, bearing in mind that the European Commission is bound to review the Damages Directive before 27 December 2020.

I. Introduction 1. Limitation periods in EU competition law damages actions. The issues raised by the enforcement of limitation period rules [1] in competition law damages actions brought in the European Union are numerous and yet seem to have been under-examined to a large extent. Firstly, limitation periods in competition law damages actions give rise to recurrent questions. According to both legal doctrine [2] and private competition lawyers, [3] defendants in competition law damages actions frequently raise the defence that the action is time-barred right after arguing that the court before which the action is brought has no jurisdiction to hear the case. Secondly, determining the limitation period is decisive to ascertain both the right for competition infringement victims to

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Marc Barennes, Driek Deferme, Michiel Verhulst, Limitation periods in competition law damages actions in the EU: Are further clarification and harmonisation needed?, February 2020, Concurrences N° 1-2020, Art. N° 92716, www.concurrences.com

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