Compensation for antitrust violations – antitrust agreements are no longer worthwhile! This is the clear conclusion of the latest developments in antitrust law. Cartels are uncovered again and again: the rail cartel, the elevator cartel, the truck cartel. The 9th amendment to the GWB now also makes it easier to enforce claims for damages in the event of antitrust violations under private law. Is your company perhaps a victim of cartel overpricing? Then antitrust claims for damages are a possibility for your company to compensate for the damage. The seven most important aspects of claims for damages in the event of antitrust violations are summarized below. Here you can find out more details about my [link text=”focus on antitrust law” id=”71″] and my [link text=”experience in representing companies in litigation” id=”73″].
1. Evidence of a cartel
As a buyer, it is almost impossible to prove that your company has been a victim of a cartel. Cartel agreements take place in secret. As a rule, nothing comes out. The antitrust authorities can help here. They follow up on tips about price cartels and investigate, often based on tips from so-called whistle blowers. These investigations and, above all, antitrust fines will be made public. Antitrust law gives companies that may be entitled to compensation for antitrust violations a right to information. Your company can therefore use the investigation results and use them in court to enforce antitrust damages claims. This is a huge relief. We would be happy to explain to you in a personal conversation how this information gathering works in detail.
2. Proof of your compensation for antitrust violations
Proving damages for antitrust violations by your company can be difficult - but antitrust law provides you with important help here too. In particular, there is a legal presumption that a cartel causes damage. In addition, the extent of the damage “only” needs to be checked for plausibility. On the one hand, it is necessary to explain the price at which your company purchased the products. There are no problems here yet.
On the other hand, we must explain what price your company would have paid without the cartel agreement. An expert report is often necessary here. These reports do not have to prove, down to the cent, the compensation for antitrust violations. They only have to be so plausible that they are a suitable basis for estimating the amount of antitrust damages claims. However, the documents from the antitrust authorities also help here, as they often contain important information about the “actual” market price. The court before which the action for damages in the event of antitrust violations is filed is bound to the final determination of the violation by the antitrust authority.
3. Passing on of damages
It should be noted that a claim for damages for antitrust violations also takes into account whether your company was able to pass on the price increase caused by the cartel to its customers. This is particularly important when determining the amount of damage. However, the members of the cartel cannot automatically exonerate themselves by saying that no damage was caused because the purchase prices were priced in. This is an important relief for your company when calculating antitrust damages claims.
4. Limitation of your claims
It often takes years before the authorities uncover a cartel. In the past, there was always the threat that antitrust claims for damages would already be statute-barred by the time the public found out about them. But antitrust law helps here too. The limitation period is five years. However, the limitation period only begins at the end of the year in which the antitrust damages claim arose, you became aware of the cartel and the cartel participants and in which the cartel was ended.
5. Process of the lawsuit
Every lawsuit, including claims for damages for antitrust violations, begins with a statement of claim to the correct court. There is already a first important hurdle here, because an action before a court that does not have jurisdiction is inadmissible. The lawsuit must demonstrate the violation of antitrust law, i.e. the cartel itself. The information from the antitrust authorities can help here. In addition, the lawsuit must explain the damage suffered and make it plausible. A plausible calculation based on the number of goods purchased, the price increased and paid by the cartel and the actual price that would have existed without the cartel can help here. If several companies were involved in the cartel, you can take action against all of them at the same time. If you win your antitrust damages claim, you can then choose who has to compensate you for your damages.
The costs depend on the amount of the antitrust damages claim. The higher the antitrust damage claim, the higher the costs. I would be happy to give you a cost estimate in a personal conversation. Of course, the general principle also applies to antitrust damages claims: whoever loses the legal dispute has to bear the costs. Your company can also join forces with other cartel victims and thereby pool resources. andrelang law is in contact with leading litigation financiers who take over the financing of the litigation costs, which are to be paid in advance.
7. Duration of the procedure
Antitrust damage claims and their duration always depend on the circumstances. It can take a few years for a final judgment from an appeals court. However, the enforcement of your antitrust damages claim has increased significantly due to the changes in the law in June 2017. There are many relief options available to cartel victims, which can also result in a quick settlement of an antitrust damages claim.