Effective private enforcement: The Swedish experience, a lesson for the EU?

During recent years, the European Commission has come to focus on private enforcement of the antitrust rules. In April 2008, it presented a White Paper setting out different options for action*. When launching the White Paper, Commissioner Neelie Kroes declared that the recommendations set out would ensure an effective system “whilst avoiding the potential excesses of the US system.” Sweden is one of few Member States where a legislative framework for private enforcement has been in place for many years. In many aspects, the Swedish system resembles the one now suggested by the Commission. In this article, the authors draw from the Swedish experience and analyse the likelihood of success for the proposed EU system, discussing whether it will be possible to achieve an effective system of private enforcement while at the same time safeguarding European legal traditions.

I. Background 1. Competition laws exist to protect the public interest, in particular the interests of consumers. The rules must be enforced to be effective. It is now widely recognised that effective enforcement requires victims of breaches of the EC competition rules to be able to claim compensation for the damage suffered. However, it appears that the path to private enforcement in Europe has not always run smoothly. 2. Many years have passed since the European Court of Justice first confirmed that Community law gives a valid legal basis for actions for damages suffered by individual victims of violations of Community law. However, it was not until September 2001 and its ruling in the Courage case, that the ECJ explicitly recognised such right in the case of breaches of the EC

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Elisabeth Eklund, Helene Andersson, Effective private enforcement: The Swedish experience, a lesson for the EU?, September 2009, Concurrences N° 3-2009, Art. N° 26623, pp. 156-162

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