December 2019

Anticompetitive practices

The Spanish Competition Authority opens investigation into potential anticompetitive practices in the maritime transport of passengers and vehicles in the South of Spain (Algeciras / Ceuta)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
The Spanish Competition and Markets Authority, CNMC, is investigating whether a number of companies active in maritime transport between Algeciras and Ceuta may be in breach of article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act (‘LDC’) and article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (‘TFEU’). (...)

The French Competition Authority fines meal vouchers issuers for anticompetitive practices taking the form of information exchange, market sharing and price-fixing (Edenred France / Up / Natixis Intertitres / Sodexo Pass France)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence fines the four historical meal vouchers issuers for a total of nearly 415 M€, for anticompetitive practices* Background The Autorité has been informed of anti-competitive practices in the meal vouchers sector by the company Octoplus (Resto Flash), which offers a (...)

The French Competition Authority fines fruit-compote manufacturers for pricing agreement and market sharing (Conserves France / Valade / Délis / Vergers de Chateaubourg / Materne / Andros / Charles Faraud / Charles & Alice)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence hands down fine worth a total of up to 58.3 million euros to the main fruit-compote manufacturers for pricing agreement and market sharing* Background The Autorité publishes today a decision by which it fines a national cartel between the main fruit-compote (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority launches an inquiry in the inter-city bus transport sector in Spain
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
The CNMC has announced the launch of an inquiry on the competition conditions in the inter-city bus sector in Spain. The first phase of the inquiry includes a public consultation, which aims at obtaining input from operators, regulators, consumers and sector experts. This consultation is (...)

The Italian Competition Authority fines over €30 million the main companies in the private security sector for bid-rigging (Allsystem / Coopservice / Italpol / IVRI / Sicuritalia)
Italian Competition Authority (Rome)
I821 - ICA: tenders for security services. Fine of over 30 million euros for an agreement restricting competition* The Italian Antitrust Authority has closed an investigation finding an anticompetitive agreement between the main companies in the private security sector, Allsystem, Coopservice, (...)

The US DoJ challenges a trade association rule for college admission (NACAC)
Jones Day (Sillicon Valley)
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Jones Day (Minneapolis)
In December 2019, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division ("DOJ") settled charges that certain National Association for College Admission Counseling ("NACAC") rules governing college admissions were anticompetitive under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. NACAC is a trade association for (...)

The German Competition Authority fines €646 million three companies and three persons for agreeing and exchanging certain supplements and surcharges for quarto plates (Ilsenburger / Thyssenkrupp Steel / Voestalpine)
Fieldfisher (Düsseldorf)
Steel manufacturers fined record €646 million for agreeing surcharges and exchanging information* The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has fined three companies and three persons a total of approximately €646 million. The companies agreed and exchanged certain supplements and surcharges for so-called (...)

The German Competition Authority fines steel manufacturers for collusion and exchange of sensitive information (ThyssenKrupp)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
According to a press release of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) dated 12 December 2019, the FCO fined steel manufacturers ThyssenKrupp, Ilsenburger Grobblech and Voestalpine Grobblech, as well as three individuals, a total amount of approximately € 646 million for exchanging sensitive (...)

The EU Court of Justice rules that a public body indirectly affected by a cartel can claim compensation for losses resulting from an antitrust infringement (Otis)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 12 December 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) delivered a judgment on a request for a preliminary ruling from the Austrian Supreme Court (C-435/18, Otis and Others v. Land Oberösterreich and Others). The request was made in the context of a compensation claim brought by (...)

The Swedish Competition Authority issues preliminary injunction against the use of exclusivity provisions in vertical agreements by the owner of a training aggregator app (Bruce)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 December 2019, the Swedish Competition Authority (“SCA”) issued a preliminary injunction against IM WITH BRUCE (“Bruce”), the owner of a so-called “training aggregator” app which offers subscribers access to a variety of fitness studios, prohibiting Bruce from using exclusivity provisions in its (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority fines alarm system distributors over €1.5 million for anticompetitive agreements (Paradox)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Hungarian Competition Authority (“GVH”) fined a supplier of security alarm systems, Paradox Security Systems (“Paradox”), registered in the Bahamas, and two of its Hungarian distributors, Power Biztonságtechnikai Kereskedelmi Kft (“Power”) and Trióda Biztonságtechnika Zrt (“Trióda”), approximately (...)

The Italian Competition Authority launches an investigation in the battery lead recovery sector
Italian Competition Authority (Rome)
I838 - Antitrust: investigation launched into an anti-competitive arrangement in the battery lead recovery sector* On 3 December 2019, the Italian Competition Authority opened an investigation against COBAT RIPA, COBAT, Fiamm Energy Technology S.p.A., Clarios Italia S.r.l., Eco-bat S.r.l., (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Israeli Competition Authority fines a company for abuse of its monopoly status, unreasonable refusal to supply and for the violation of merger conditions in the soft drink market (Coca Cola)
Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA)
THE COMMISSIONER OF COMPETITION FINED COCA COLA ISRAEL APPROXIMATELY NIS 39 MILLION:* The Commissioner of Competition decided today (Tuesday) to impose a monetary sanction of approximately NIS 39 Million on the Central Company for Sales and Distribution, for abusing its monopoly status, for (...)

The Copenhagen City Court fines an ambulance service company for abusing of its dominant position by excluding its competitors through the adoption of exclusion strategies (Falck / BIOs)
Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (Copenhagen)
FINE OF DKK 30 MILLION TO FALCK* The City Court of Copenhagen has imposed a fine of DKK 30 million to the ambulance service company Falck Danmark A/S for abuse of dominant position. Falck abused its dominant position by excluding its competitor BIOS from ambulance services in the Region of (...)

The Californian Attorney General announces a $575 million settlement with the largest hospital system in Northern California (Sutter)
McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES HISTORIC $575 MILLION SETTLEMENT OF ANTITRUST SUIT AGAINST SUTTER HEALTH * California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (AG Becerra) announced on Friday, December 20, 2019, the terms of a comprehensive settlement agreement reached with Sutter Health (...)

The French Competition Authority fines a research engine company for abuse of dominance in the search advertising market (Google)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence hands down a €150M fine for abuse of a dominant position* Google has abused its dominant position in the search advertising market by adopting operating rules of its Google Ads advertising platform which are opaque and difficult to understand and by applying them (...)

The French Competition Authority fines a company for abusing its dominant position in the online search advertising market (Google)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 20 December 2019, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) announced that it had imposed a € 150 million fine on Google for abusing its dominant position in the market for search advertising. This is the fourth antitrust fine imposed on Google by a competition authority of the EU in less than (...)

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court confirms and defines margin squeeze as a particular form of abusive pricing strategy in the telecommunication market (Swisscom)
Lenz & Staehelin (Zurich)
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Lenz & Staehelin (Zurich)
Federal Supreme Court examines margin squeeze under Swiss competition law* Introduction On 9 December 2019 the Federal Supreme Court confirmed that Swisscom AG and Swisscom (Schweiz) AG (together, Swisscom) had abused its dominant position by charging abusive prices for wholesale broadband (...)

The Croatian Competition Authority fines major national winemaker for unfair trading practices (Iločki podrumi)
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
Winemaker Iločki podrumi sanctioned HRK 250,000 for imposing unfair trading practices* The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) opened an ex-officio infringement proceeding against the undertaking Iločki podrumi after having assessed the writing by a supplier of grapes which was communicated to the (...)

Mergers

The German Competition Authority conducts parallel investigation into potential for cartelization and merger review proceedings resulting in a conditional approval of the joint venture (Telekom / EWE)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
Telekom and EWE, two of Germany’s largest telecommunications companies, sought to form a joint venture (JV) to expand the fire-optic broadband network in north-western Germany. On 21 March 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) launched two sets of parallel proceedings: an investigation (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority identifies anticompetitive risks into a joint venture of port towage in which the companies later decided to dissolve (Svitzer / Iskes)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
JOINT VENTURE PORT TOWAGE AMSTERDAM TO BE DISSOLVED, FOLLOWING AN INVESTIGATION OF ACM* Joint ventures cannot be used for circumventing competition rules. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) investigated the joint venture Port Towage Amsterdam (PTA). This joint venture (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority confirms the commitment to dissolve the joint venture by two port towing undertakings (Port Towage Amsterdam)
Bird & Bird (The Hague)
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Bird & Bird (The Hague)
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Bird & Bird (The Hague)
PORT TOWING JOINT VENTURE DISSOLVED AFTER INVESTIGATION BY THE DUTCH COMPETITION AUTHORITY: FULL-FUNCTIONALITY QUESTIONED* Background On 20 December 2019, the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) published a decision in which the commitment to dissolve the joint venture Port (...)

The Canadian Commissioner of Competition files an application with the Competition Tribunal challenging the acquisition by an undertaking of a primary grain elevator (P&H / Virden Elevator / Louis Dreyfus)
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg (Toronto)
HE KNOWS WHEN YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY: CANADA’S COMPETITION COMMISSIONER DELIVERS LUMPS OF COAL TO MERGING PARTIES* In his own version of the pre-holiday rush, the Canadian Commissioner of Competition challenged one merger transaction just before the Christmas holidays and entered into a consent (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the IT services market (Softeam / Le Groupe La Poste)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Softeam by Le Groupe La Poste* On 14 November 2019, Le Groupe La Poste notified the Autorité of its intention to acquire Softeam. This transaction is part of Le Groupe La Poste’s strategy to diversify its activities, resulting in multiple (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the biotechnologies market (Danaher / GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ Biopharma Business)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves Danaher’s acquisition of GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ Biopharma Business, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of General Electric’s Healthcare Life Sciences Biopharma Business by Danaher (...)

The German Competition Authority prohibits a merger in the cash handling services sector (Ziemann / Loomis)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 December 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) prohibited Loomis’ proposed acquisition of its competitor, Ziemann Sicherheit Holding (“Ziemann”). Loomis and Ziemann are both cash handling service providers. The proposed concentration would have affected the provision of cash to banks (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation into a proposed merger in the maritime transport market (DSME / HHIH)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of DSME by HHIH* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering CO., Ltd (DSME) by another shipbuilding group, Hyundai (...)

The Indian Competition Authority invites public comments on a proposed amendment to the Combination Regulations relating to the acquisition of shares pursuant to a public bid or a stock exchange
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (Mumbai)
The CCI invited public comments on a proposed amendment to the Combination Regulations relating to the acquisition of shares pursuant to a public bid or on a stock exchange. At present, such an acquisition cannot, where it qualifies as a notifiable transaction, be completed until CCI clearance (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the luxury perfumes and cosmetic products market (Azzaro / Thierry Mugler / L’Oréal)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the take-over of the perfumes Azzaro and Thierry Mugler and their derived products by L’Oréal Group* On 14 November 2019, L’Oréal Group notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its proposed acquisition of control of the marketing of luxury perfumes and (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the food retail market (Casino / Capdis / Holding Mag Spring)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence authorises Casino to change from joint to sole control of companies Capdis and Holding Mag Spring.* It will now become the sole owner of 198 sales outlets operated jointly until now, under the brand names of its group. On 14 November 2019, Casino notified the (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the airport management concessions (Toulouse-Blagnac airport / Eiffage)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Toulouse-Blagnac airport by the Eiffage group* On 8 November 2019, the Eiffage group notified the Autorité of its plan to acquire sole control of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport ("ATB"), which operates the Toulouse airport (31). By a decision (...)

The Brazilian Competition Authority’s Tribunal discusses the possibility of increasing the legal limits for fines in gun jumping cases (IBM / Red Hat)
Vinicius Marques de Carvalho Advogados (VMCA) (Sao Paulo)
IBM Red Hat case triggers discussion on gun jumping fine* CADE’s Tribunal debates changing the limits for fines, which would be currently outdated for high-value transactions. In the context of an Administrative Proceeding to Investigate a Merger (APAC, in its Portuguese acronym), CADE’s (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an in-depth investigation into a proposed merger in the petroleum product storage services market (Trapil / Pisto)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence has begun an in-depth examination into the acquisition of Société des Transports Pétroliers par Pipelines (Trapil) by Pisto SAS* Acquisition of France’s largest pipeline On 5 November 2019, Pisto SAS, which is active in the petroleum product storage services (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger subject to remedies in the hearing aids sector (Audilab / Demant)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Sale of hearing aids: the Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Audilab by the Demant group, subject to conditions.* Background After an in-depth examination of the hearing aids sector in its 2016 sector-wide inquiry and having made several recommendations aiming to ensure its (...)

The French Competition Authority clears two separate mergers of companies in the same group in the transport sector (Capelle / AltéAd Marchal Levage and Mediaco-Capelle / AltéAd)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears two separate acquisitions but concerning companies belonging to the same group, AltéAd* These decisions are made following the opening of judicial reorganisation proceedings regarding AltéAd. On 25 June 2019, Mediaco Levage and Capelle Investissements (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger between two groups of restaurants chains in the high-end restaurant market (Léon de Bruxelles / Bertrand)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the takeover of Groupe Léon de Bruxelles by Groupe Bertrand (Hippopotamus, Burger King, Lipp, La Coupole, etc.)* On 30 October 2019, Groupe Bertrand notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its plan to take exclusive control of Groupe Léon de Bruxelles. (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the markets for batteries and portable battery chargers (Varta / Energizer)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves Varta AG’s acquisition of Energizer’s divestment business, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, Varta AG as a suitable purchaser of assets divested by Energizer in order to acquire Spectrum Brands’ batteries and (...)

State Aid

The EU Court of Justice confirms that a company does not necessarily insulate from State aid if it enjoys exclusive rights and operates in a sector covered by a legal monopoly (Arriva Italia)
College of Europe (Bruges)
* Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU General Court dismisses the appeal of financial service’s companies which wanted to annul a State aid (BPC Lux 2)
College of Europe (Bruges)
* Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Court of Justice dismisses an appeal by the beneficiary of an aid concluding that the preferential electricy tariff constituted incompatible State aid (Mytilinaios)
College of Europe (Bruges)
* Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Commission allows under EU State aid rules an Important Project of Common European Interest notified by several Member States to cooperate for the development of innovative products (IPCEI)
College of Europe (Bruges)
* Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

Procedures

The Brazilian Competition Authority considers using a new economics test with Moran’s I statistic to detect collusive behavior between competitors bidding in public procurement auctions
Vinicius Marques de Carvalho Advogados (VMCA) (Sao Paulo)
New cartel screening tool may enhance investigations by CADE* A new working paper published by the authority explores the possibility of applying statistics to public procurement auctions. CADE’s Department of Economic Studies (DEE) released, in December, a working paper discussing the (...)

The US DoJ files a motion clarifying certain provisions and extends the consent decree due to violations of the final judgement in the entertainment sector (Ticketmaster)
Wolters Kluwer (Riverwoods)
US MOVES TO MODIFY, EXTEND ANTITRUST CONSENT DECREE WITH LIVE NATION / TICKETMASTER* Consent decree reform has been a hallmark of the Makan Delrahim Antitrust Division. For two years, the head of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division has undertaken efforts to terminate legacy consent (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority assists the French Competition Authority in the dawn raids of a Dutch company in order to dismantle a cartel in the selling of apple sauce (Coroos)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
ACM AND THE FRENCH COMPETITION AUTHORITY HAVE WORKED TOGETHER IN FINING A FRENCH CARTEL* The French competition authority today imposed fines, totalling 58.3 million euros, on seven food companies for concluding anticompetitive arrangements regarding the selling of apple sauce. These companies (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority imposes a fine of €1.84 million against a company for obstructing an on-the-spot inspection (WhatsApp)
ACTECON (Istanbul)
ACM HAS IMPOSED A FINE OF 1.84 MILLION EUROS FOR DELETING WHATSAPP CHAT CONVERSATIONS DURING A DAWN RAID* Dawn raids may become a nerve-racking experience for companies that are under scrutiny of competition authorities and their employees. During a dawn raid, which is performed without prior (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority imposes a fine of €1.84 million on a company for obstructing and deleting chat conversations during a dawn raid (WhatsApp)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
ACM HAS IMPOSED A FINE OF 1.84 MILLION EUROS FOR DELETING WHATSAPP CHAT CONVERSATIONS DURING A DAWN RAID* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed a fine on a company for obstructing an ACM investigation. During a recent dawn raid, employees of the company under (...)

The Romanian Competition Council updates and enacts new guidelines on the assessement of fines
Maravela, Popescu & Roman
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Maravela, Popescu & Roman
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Maravela, Popescu & Roman
Introduction Competition authorities at both European and national level develop and update policies regarding the enforcement of competition legislation. Such a policy for the prevention of infringements of competition law rules was recently updated by the Romanian Competition Council (...)

The Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announces the intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 9 December 2019, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announced the Commission’s intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law (‘the Notice’). The Notice dates back from 1997 and (...)

The French Competition Authority can access data of electronic communication operators in order to investigate anticompetitive practices
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence will now be able to access the data of electronic communication operators* The PACTE Law for the Growth and Transformation of Companies of 22 May 2019, has given the Autorité de la concurrence new power to investigate anticompetitive practices. The law now allows (...)

Regulatory

The Brazilian Securities & Exchange Commission opens public hearing to discuss the possibility of multiple stock exchanges in the country following discussions by the Competition Authority about this possibility in a number of recent proceedings
Vinicius Marques de Carvalho Advogados (VMCA) (Sao Paulo)
CADE’s analysis influence CVM debate regarding competition in the securities market* CVM has opened a public hearing to discuss the possibility of multiple stock exchanges in Brazil after the antitrust authority’s debates. In light of the discussions held by Cade in a number of antitrust (...)

The Canadian Competition Bureau announces that agencies and brands involved in influencer marketing have to comply with the Competition Act
Steve Szentesi Law Corporation (Vancouver)
INFLUENCER ADVERTISING: COMPETITION BUREAU INCREASES PRESSURE ON BRANDS AND AGENCIES TO COMPLY WITH THE COMPETITION ACT* Practical Law Canada has published a New Legal Update, which discusses the Competition Bureau’s new guidelines for influencer advertising. While the Bureau’s new guidelines (...)

The French Competition Authority issues two maps regarding the establishment of court bailiffs and judicial auctioneers
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Freedom of establishment for court bailiffs and judicial auctioneers* The process of progressively opening up the two professions, which are scheduled to merge into the new profession of commissioner of justice in 2022, is producing encouraging results and should continue. Pursuant to the (...)

International

Spain: The Audiencia Provincial of Valencia grants in second instance 5% compensation for damages in a follow-on action based on the European Commission Decision in the truck cartel case (CNH Industrial NV)
Martinez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann (Madrid)
The Audiencia Provincial of Valencia has partially upheld a first instance judgment awarding damages equivalent to 5% of the purchase price of the truck (totalling 3,985 euros) and quashed the judgment just in respect of the interests, finding that they should have been added from the purchase (...)

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