LEGAL PRACTICE: ANTICOMPETITIVE PRACTICES - FRANCE - QUANTIFICATION OF HARM - ADMINISTRATIVE LITIGATION

The assessment by the French administrative judge of the harm resulting from anticompetitive practices

The French road signs cartel case has resulted in significant volume of litigation before French administrative courts, which led to the award of very high damages (in view of the size of the markets concerned and of the amount of the fines imposed by the French Competition Authority). Based on several edifying examples, this article sheds light on the administrative courts’ difficulties to apply the methodologies which are recommended by both competition authorities and the Paris Court of Appeals to quantify economic damage. After pointing out that, according to the principle of ’full damage compensation’, judges may not grant damages that exceed the harm actually suffered, this article advocates for better consideration of economic principles used to quantify the damage suffered, in accordance with the right of all parties to be heard (such right being too often jeopardized when courts decide to rely on the experts appointed by them).

1. Les difficultés inhérentes à la quantification du préjudice résultant de pratiques anticoncurrentielles (ci-après, le “préjudice antitrust”) ont été récemment mises en lumière par l’abondant contentieux indemnitaire, qui a fait suite à la décision de l’Autorité de la concurrence sanctionnant une entente dans le secteur de la signalisation routière verticale [1]. Il s’agit, à ce jour, de l’affaire qui a fourni le plus grand nombre d’actions en réparation du préjudice antitrust en France. 2. Sanctionnés pour s’être réparti les appels d’offres organisés par les collectivités territoriales (pour leur approvisionnement en panneaux de signalisation routière), les huit principaux fournisseurs français font face depuis près de dix ans à de nombreuses actions engagées par plusieurs départements souhaitant obtenir

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François Brunet, Céline Verney, The assessment by the French administrative judge of the harm resulting from anticompetitive practices, May 2020, Concurrences N° 2-2020, Art. N° 93692, www.concurrences.com

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