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Reforming Private Antitrust Enforcement in Europe: Between Harmonisation and Regulatory Competition

Kammin, Julian

Schriften zum Wirtschaftsrecht, Vol. 259

(2014)

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About The Author

Julian Kammin studierte Rechtswissenschaften mit Schwerpunkt Europa- und Völkerrecht in Kiel und Lyon und absolvierte Praktika in Hamburg, Brüssel und London. Von 2010 bis 2012 war er wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Lehrstuhl von Prof. Dr. Florian Becker, LL.M. (Cambridge) an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel und arbeitete an dem von der EU-Kommission finanzierten Forschungsprojekt »Reforming the European Civil Justice: The case of cross-border private antitrust law actions«. Von 2013 bis 2015 war er Referendar am Kammergericht Berlin mit Stationen unter anderem in der Rechtsabteilung des Auswärtigen Amtes und bei der Generalstaatsanwaltschaft Berlin. Im Mai 2014 wurde er von der Rechtswissenschaftlichen Fakultät Kiel zum Doktor der Rechte promoviert und erhielt für die Dissertation »Reforming Private Antitrust Enforcement in Europe: Between Harmonisation and Regulatory Competition« den Fakultätspreis 2014 sowie den Förderpreis des Kieler Doctores Iuris e. V. 2015. Seit 2016 ist er Staatsanwalt bei der Staatsanwaltschaft Köln und dort in der Schwerpunktabteilung zur Vermeidung von Steuerstraftaten tätig.

Abstract

Spätestens die Aufdeckung des sog. Bierkartells hat vielen Konsumenten verdeutlicht, dass Preisabsprachen Auswirkungen auf ihr tägliches Leben haben. Die zunehmende Anzahl wettbewerbsverzerrender Praktiken belegt, dass der freie Markt in Europa geschützt werden muss. Der immense volkswirtschaftliche Schaden und die Tatsache, dass die manipulierten, überhöhten Preise regelmäßig an die Verbraucher weitergegeben werden verlangen effektive Lösungen zu deren Bekämpfung. Dabei stellt im Hinblick auf die Geltendmachung von Schadensersatz das Nebeneinander von 28 nur zum Teil harmonisierten Zivilrechtsordnungen die Geschädigten vor fast unüberwindbare Hindernisse.

Der Autor hat sich nicht nur der wissenschaftlichen und rechtsvergleichenden Aufarbeitung dieser Probleme an der Schnittstelle von Kartellrecht und internationalem Privatrecht gewidmet, sondern auch zahlreiche Rechtsanwälte von internationalen Sozietäten befragt. Darauf fußend hat er ein neues und in sich geschlossenes System zur Verbesserung des private enforcement von Kartellrecht entwickelt.
The beer cartel underlines that antitrust law is of outstanding significance for all citizens. Anti-competitive practices such as price fixing, limiting production or sharing markets in Europe demonstrate that the free and open market is not guaranteed in its entirety. Resulting economic losses are enormous, especially for consumers as the anti-competitive prices are usually passed on to them. However, filing promising antitrust damages actions is virtually impossible due to the fact that 28 legal orders of the Member States may apply to such cross-border disputes. This legal uncertainty benefits the infringers.

The author did not only analyse this problem being at the interface between antitrust and private international law but also interviewed a number of practitioners at international law firms with out-standing expertise in order to shed some light on the litigation process, how it functions, and whether and how it might be reformed. He developed a new system to improve private antitrust enforcement and ensure that victims are compensated.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Acknowledgements 7
Inhaltsverzeichnis 9
Part 1: The Situation 17
A. Antitrust Policy and Substantive Antitrust Law in Europe 17
I. Anti-Competitive Agreements 18
II. Abusive Conduct by Monopolists and Dominant Firms 19
B. Development of Antitrust Enforcement in General 20
C. Antitrust Enforcement through Damages Claims in Particular 21
I. Current Situation 21
II. Significance for Compensation and Deterrence 22
III. Application of Primary Law to Antitrust Damages Claims 23
IV. Transnational Dimension of Damages Claims 24
1. International Jurisdiction 25
2. Applicable Law 26
D. Objective of this Thesis 26
Part 2: Aspects of Substance, Procedure and Jurisdiction 28
A. Introduction 28
B. Substantive Law in Cross-Border Antitrust Damages Actions 29
I. National Provisions with Regard to Damages 29
1. Burden of Proof 30
a) Follow-On and Stand-Alone Litigation 30
b) Significance of National Provisions 31
2. Requirement of Fault 32
a) England and France: Strict Liability 32
b) Disadvantages for Claimants through Requirement of Fault 33
3. Award of Damage 33
a) Restitution and Punitive Damages 33
b) Assessment of Damages in Germany 35
c) Fines by a Public Authority 35
d) Summary 35
4. Passing-on Defence 36
a) Consequences for Damages Litigation 36
b) Status Quo in the European Union 37
5. Statutes of Limitation 38
6. Concluding Remarks 38
II. Choice-of-Law Rules 39
1. Private International Law Framework 39
2. Contractual Claims in Antitrust Litigation 40
a) Contract/Contractual 40
b) Applicable Substantive Law 41
3. Non-Contractual Claims in Antitrust Litigation 42
a) Applicable Substantive Law 42
b) Role of Art 6 (3) (b) Rome II 43
c) Limit Forum Shopping 44
III. Conclusion 45
C. Procedural Law in Cross-Border Antitrust Damages Actions 45
I. Practitioners' Approach 45
II. Collective Redress Mechanisms 47
1. Role of Consumers 47
2. Principle of Equivalence and Effectiveness 48
3. Different Mechanisms of Collective Actions 49
a) Impracticality of Joint Actions and Test Cases 50
b) Opt-In/Out Class Actions 50
aa) Restrictive Framework in EU Member States 51
bb) Benefits of Class Actions 51
cc) Disadvantages of Class Actions 53
c) Representative Actions by Associations 55
aa) Definition and Benefits 55
bb) Examples from France, the United Kingdom and Germany 55
d) Assignment of Claims 57
aa) Model of “Cartel Damage Claims” (CDC) 57
bb) Relationship to other Collective Redress Tools 58
e) Summary 59
III. Costs 59
1. Practitioners' Approach 60
2. Cost Rules Among Member States 61
3. Consequences for Antitrust Damages Claimants 62
IV. Standard of Proof 63
1. Cartels and Standard of Proof 63
2. National Rules on Standard of Proof 64
V. Access to Evidence 65
1. Information Asymmetry 65
2. Different Approaches 65
3. Practical Outcome 67
VI. Recognition and Enforcement of the Title 67
VII. Conclusion 69
D. Jurisdictional Rules in Cross-Border Antitrust Damages Actions 69
I. Claimants' Uncertainty about the Forum 70
II. Cultural Aspects Guiding Victims 70
III. Position of Courts 71
Part 3: Ideas for Legal Reform 73
A. Approach of the United States 74
I. Different Approaches 74
II. Characteristics of Antitrust Litigation in the United States 75
1. Deterrence or Compensation? 75
a) Passing-on Defence and Automatic Trebling 75
b) Merging the Approaches 76
2. Access to Evidence 76
a) Exchange of Evidence between Parties in the United States 76
b) Requirement of Related Rules 77
3. Collective Redress Mechanisms 78
a) Opt-Out-Model of the United States 78
b) A Model for the European Union? 78
III. Ideas for Reform Inspired by the US System of Antitrust Enforcement 79
B. “European” Reform 80
I. Harmonisation/Centralisation 80
1. Current Example 81
2. Benefits of Uniform Rules 81
3. Negative Aspects of Centralisation 82
a) Traditional Inconsistency 82
b) Legal Inconsistency 83
c) Harmonisation Costs 84
II. Decentralisation and Inter-Jurisdictional Regulatory Competition 84
III. Fundamental Ideas for Legal Reform of the Brussels I Regulation 85
1. Promotion of Forum Shopping to Improve Private Enforcement 86
a) Forum Shopping 86
b) Regulatory Competition 87
2. Negative Attitudes towards Forum Shopping 88
a) Unfairness to the Defendant 88
b) Public Interest 89
3. Limit to the Choice of Forums 89
a) Choice-of-Law Rules 90
b) Jurisdictional Rules 90
c) Lis Pendens Rules 91
4. Availability of Collective Redress and the Claimant's Forum 92
5. Stimulating National Legislators 92
IV. Summary 93
Part 4: Analysis and Reform of the Jurisdictional Rules 95
A. Introduction/Framework 95
B. Scope of the Brussels I Regulation 96
I. Unequal Access to Justice 96
II. Antitrust Damages Claims and Non-EU Parties 97
C. General Jurisdiction and Antitrust Damages Claims 98
I. Actor Sequitur Forum Rei 98
II. Ratio of Protecting the Defendant 99
1. Situation of Antitrust Victims 100
2. Determination of a Well-Placed Court 101
III. Claimants' Venue 101
1. Analogy to Existing Venues 102
2. Home Actions versus Forum Shopping 103
IV. Conclusion 103
D. Jurisdiction in Contract-Based EU Antitrust Damages Claims 104
I. Possible Scenarios 104
II. Matters Relating to a Contract/Forum Contractus 104
1. Contribution to Private Antitrust Enforcement 105
2. Distinction between Contractual and Non-Contractual Matters 106
a) Significance of the Distinction 106
b) Interpretation 107
c) Scope of Contractual Matters 107
aa) Voidness of Contractual Agreements 107
bb) Damages Claims of a Contracting Party 109
3. Place of Performance of the Obligation in Question 110
a) Interpretation under the Brussels Convention 110
b) Interpretation de Lege Lata 112
aa) Art 5 (1) (b) Brussels I 112
bb) Benefits for Private Enforcement of Antitrust Law 112
c) Consequences for Transnational Antitrust Actions 113
aa) Sale of Goods 113
bb) Provision of Services 114
cc) Other Agreements 115
d) Reform Ideas for the Place of Performance 116
4. Declaration of Voidness of Anti-Competitive Agreements 117
5. Damages Claim of a Contracting Party 118
a) Development towards Tortious Damages Claims 118
b) Antitrust Damages Claim of a Contracting Party 120
aa) Art 5 (3) Brussels I 120
bb) Factual Connection of the Claims 121
cc) Suggestions for Legal Reform 122
6. Ideas for Reform of Art 5 (1) Brussels I 123
III. Disputes Arising out of the Operations of a Branch or Agency 123
IV. A Number of Defendants 125
1. Art 6 Brussels I and Forum Shopping 125
a) Benefits to Claimants 125
b) Potential for Abuse 126
2. Close Connection 127
3. Defendants Domiciled Outside the European Union 128
4. Concluding Remarks 129
V. Matters Relating to a Contract Concluded by a Consumer 129
1. Ratio and Role of Consumer Protection in Antitrust-Based Litigation 130
a) Application to Antitrust Damages Claims 131
b) Betterment of Consumers 131
c) Protection of Defendants versus Effective Legal Protection 131
2. Addressees of Privileges 132
a) Personal Scope: Consumers 132
b) Third Parties on Behalf of Consumers 134
aa) Consumer Associations 135
bb) Consequence for Consumers 135
3. Objective Scope of the Privileges 135
4. Reform Proposals to Strengthen the Consumers' Position 136
a) Consumer Collective Redress Mechanisms 136
aa) Home Venue for Consumer Associations 136
bb) Permanent Availability of Collective Redress Mechanisms 137
b) Tortious Damages Claims 137
VI. Agreements on Jurisdiction 138
1. Practical Implication 138
2. Benefits and Disadvantages of Choice of Court Clauses 139
3. Ideas for Legal Reform 140
E. Jurisdiction in Tort-Based EU Antitrust Damages Claims 140
I. Tort-Based Damages Claims and Venue 140
II. International Jurisdiction in Matters Relating to Tort/Forum Delicti 141
1. Qualification, Scope, Ratio and Benefits for Antitrust Victims 141
2. Place of the Harmful Event 142
a) Interpretation: Place of Damages and Place of Acting 142
b) Consequences for Antitrust Damages Claimants 143
c) Exceptions 144
3. Place of the Event Giving Rise to the Antitrust Damage/Place of Acting 145
a) Infringement of Art 101 TFEU 145
aa) Place of Conclusion 145
bb) Place of Implementation or Operation 146
cc) Place of the Seat 147
dd) Summary 147
b) Infringement of Art 102 TFEU 147
4. Place where the Antitrust Damage Occurred/Place of Damages 148
a) Forum in Antitrust-Based Litigation 148
b) Unrestricted Freedom of Choice 149
c) Indirect Consequences 150
5. Ideas for Legal Reform 150
a) Benefits of Forum Delicti Commissi 150
b) Avoiding Unlimited Forums and Abusive Forum Shopping 151
F. New Venues 152
Part 5: Analysis and Ideas for Legal Reform of Lis Pendens and Related Actions 154
A. Ratio and Scope of Arts 27 and 28 Brussels I 154
B. Avoiding Parallel Proceedings 155
I. Response of the Brussels I Regulation 155
II. Applicability in Antitrust Law 156
1. Art 27 Brussels I and Antitrust Damages Claims 156
2. Art 28 Brussels I and Antitrust Damages Claims 157
C. Defendants' Tactics: Reverse Forum Shopping 157
I. Staying proceedings – Forum Non Conveniens 158
1. Applicability of Forum Non Conveniens 158
2. Position of Courts as Justification for Forum Non Conveniens? 159
II. Negative Declaratory Proceedings 161
1. Theoretical Basics 161
2. Practical Application 162
3. Suggestions for Legal Reform 163
Part 6: Summary, Conclusion, Policy 165
A. Suggestions for Legal Reform 165
I. Fundamental Considerations 165
II. Legal Reform of Art 2 Brussels I 167
III. Legal Reform of Contract-Based Jurisdiction 167
1. Reform Suggestions for Art 5 (1) Brussels I 167
2. Reform Suggestions for Art 6 (1) Brussels I 168
3. Reform Suggestions for Arts 15 et seq. Brussels I 169
4. Reform Suggestions for Art 23 Brussels I 169
IV. Legal Reform of Tort-Based Jurisdiction 170
V. Legal Reform of Lis Pendens 170
B. Legal Policy/Leniency Programme 171
I. Significance of the Leniency Programme 171
II. Dependence of Private Enforcement on Leniency 172
III. Collision Points of Leniency and Cartel Damages Claims 173
IV. Ideas for Legal Reform 174
1. Civil Immunity for Leniency Applicants 175
2. Waiving Joint and Several Liability 175
3. Restricting Pre-Trial Disclosure and Access to Files 176
4. The Way Ahead 177
References 178
Subject Index 185