• In its 2019 Spring Video Series, PaRR’s reporters sat down with some of the top ascending minds tackling the most importance competition policy challenges around the world. Amabelle Asuncion reflected on what she learned implementing the Philippine Competition Act in 2015 as well as the intuition gained after getting the Philippine Competition Commission off the ground the following year. 

    The European Commission (EC) has issued (17 March) emergency guidance for requests for state aid due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses in EU states.

    In its notice, the agency outlines a series of steps by which claimants can request state aid for damages incurred because of the COVID-19 outbreak as well as commitments parties are requested to make in order to be eligible for the aid.

    The EC notice on aid comes as airlines and airports across the EU have said that they will request aid from their respective governments. On Sunday (15 March), Brussels Airlines said that it would request aid, while last Friday (13 March) its parent Lufthansa announced that it would request aid from the German government.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The European Commission’s (EC) competition directorate is currently shortlisting sectors that will be suitable candidates for a potential inquiry, antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said today (10 March).

    “We are indeed in the process of shortlisting sectors but that [announcement] will come later,” Vestager, who is also executive vice-president, said.

    Addressing whether sector inquiries could be used in markets where digital platforms operate and may risk tipping the market, the commissioner said, “A sector inquiry is not a very useful tool.”

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today (4 March) dismissed an appeal by Marine Harvest (now Mowi) against a European Commission (EC) decision fining the firm EUR 20m for jumping the gun on its takeover of rival Morpol.

    The ruling did not follow the non-binding opinion of Advocate General (AG) Evgeni Tanchev , which in September suggested that the ECJ should halve the fine on the grounds that the EC cannot impose separate fines for breaches of the merger notification requirement and the standstill obligation as they arise from the same conduct.

    In December 2012, Marine Harvest acquired a 48.5% stake in Morpol, which was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Under Norwegian law, an acquirer of more than one-third of the shares in a listed company is obliged to bid for the remaining shares. As a result, Marine Harvest submitted a public offer for the rest of the company's shares, ultimately increasing its shareholding to 87.1%.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (TFTC) is still looking at the proposed acquisition of Hitachi Chemical [TYO:4217] by chemical engineering firm Showa Denko [TYO:4004], according to a TFTC spokesperson, although he declined to be specific.

    “The proposed acquisition has been filed with the regulator. The case is still being ‘processed’ and has yet to be presented to the committee,” the spokesperson said, referring to the TFTC’s decision-making committee that has the final say on each deal being reviewed by the authority.

    A Showa Denko spokesperson, meanwhile, said the proposed deal already obtained approval from the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) at the end of February.

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    Germany’s competition agency has largely backed draft provisions of the 10th amendment of the country’s competition act, but at the same time underlined possible deficiencies in an opinion paper published today (25 February).

    Last month, the German economy ministry published its draft digital competition reform, intended to boost abuse enforcement in the digital sector, introduce interim measures and optimize merger control, among other amendments.

    The Bundeskartellamt (BKartA) has now shared its comments on the draft that mainly welcome the amendments, especially those modernizing abuse control that will facilitate enforcement against large digital platforms, according to the German-language document.

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  • China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has been looking at complaints against Apple Inc. for engaging in alleged anticompetitive conduct in patent licensing negotiations by abusing its advantageous position as the implementer of standard-essential patents (SEPs), according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    The US tech giant has been the subject of complaints about requiring excessively low royalties during patent licensing fee negotiations with certain small-and-medium-sized SEP holders, said the sources. 

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    The scope of Japan’s proposed Digital Platform Transparency Law is so narrow that it may only apply to the five largest e-commerce companies operating in the country, according to three sources who submitted public comment on the matter before the bill moves to parliament, including a researcher with an industry association. 

    “People generally sense that the law targets only five firms, Google, Apple, Rakuten, Yahoo and Amazon,” Soichi Sato, a public policy researcher for the Japan Association of New Economy (JANE), told PaRR on Wednesday (5 February).   JANE is an industry lobbying group representing some 534 firms that include information technology (IT) firms, digital content and service providers.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The much-anticipated courtroom battle between Google and the European Commission (EC) in the Shopping antitrust case this week will see the EU General Court (EC) packed to capacity as the parties are accompanied by almost a dozen interveners armed with advisers.

    Seasoned veterans will plead the respective cases alongside juniors for whom the case could prove career defining.

    Google is contesting a 2017 EC decision which slapped the tech company with a then-record EUR 2.42bn fine for giving an illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service in its search results while demoting those of competitors.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    France, Germany, Italy and Poland have called on the European Commission (EC) to revise its horizontal merger guidance and to clarify its plans to review the market definition notice in the coming weeks, according to a letter by ministers of the four EU member states seen by PaRR.

    The missive addressed to EC Executive Vice-President for a Digital Age Margrethe Vestager calls on the executive to adopt a work plan “in weeks” to modernise the EU’s competition toolbox to confront the challenges of digitisation and globalisation.

    The letter also calls on the EC to use its sector inquiry powers in order to “better understand how competition may be stifled in certain sectors of the European economy exposed to unfair international competition”.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The Japan Fair Trade Commission has requested a budget of JPY 11.6bn (USD 106m) -- the highest on record -- for the coming fiscal year as the agency’s role in regulating the digital economy increases, a JFTC official told PaRR today (3 February).

    The Japanese parliament also commenced its budget debate today. The JFTC budget request, for the fiscal year running from April 2020 to March 2021, is up 1.4% from JPY 11.4 billion (USD 104m) for the current period.

    “This is a record high. The increase is driven by … digital measures,” Takashi Shinagawa, JFTC director of general affairs, told PaRR.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today (30 January) clarified criteria applicable to the characterisation of settlement agreements between a pharmaceutical patents holder and generic medicines manufacturer, in a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pay-for-delay reference decision.

    In February 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) imposed a GBP 45m (EUR 53.21m) fine on British multinational pharmaceutical GSK and generic pharma firms Generics (UK) and its parent MerckActavisAlpharma and Xellia for delaying the entry of cheaper versions of GSK’s blockbuster paroxetine antidepressant Seroxat in the UK.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The Philippine antitrust authority is poised to utilize its newly acquired dawn raid powers in existing investigations into possible cartels, its chairman told PaRR today (29 January).

    Last week the Supreme Court formally launched rules governing on-site inspections by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). With the rules in place, dawn raids are now expected to start as part of the PCC’s investigation procedures.

    PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan told PaRR that the agency was waiting for the judges to be trained on how courts should treat its application for on-site investigations, which would help beef up enforcement action against cartels.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    Proposals to change the EU’s merger control rules that would apply contrasting legal standards to different parties would face significant challenges, said the new top civil servant at the European Commission’s (EC) directorate for competition.

    The relationship between industrial policy and competition policy is the “sea serpent” of European politics and attempts to change the merger control process to favour industrial considerations could bring substantive issues, said Olivier Guersent, the new director general at DG Competition, in remarks at the Fondation Robert Schuman on Tuesday (21 January).

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The Paris Appeal Court has confirmed the legality of dawn raids conducted by the Autorité de la concurrence at the premises of a notaries’ association, its subsidiaries and a notary firm in 2017, according to two recently published orders.

    The notary profession is regulated in France and professionals operate partly in a monopoly and partly in competition with other professionals, such as those specialised in negotiation and real estate expertise, a de-regulated activity which is considered a growing source of revenue, according to the item.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    The burden and the standard of proof required of companies in antitrust cases are often misunderstood and practitioners should focus debate on the latter, a senior European Commission (EC) official said in Brussels today (25 November).

    The two concepts need to be distinguished for intellectual soundness, Thomas Kramler, DG Comp’s head of unit for antitrust in ecommerce and digital economy, said, while referring to a report authored this year by three special advisers to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

    “When one reads the report, one reads ‘burden of proof’,” Kramler said, adding: “What is meant is we should use more by object type of infringements, that is, it talks about the standard of proof.”

    Shifting the burden of proof would be more difficult and requires more care, the EC official said.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • China’s national security review process has historically been opaque. But a recent bid by Yonghui Superstore to take control of competitor Zhongbai Holdings has given much needed clarity on the timelines involved in such a review.

    Despite receiving antitrust clearance on August, the Shanghai-listed supermarket chain operator also needed to secure national security approval. While the exact nature of the ongoing review is unknown, the fact that Yonghui’s largest shareholder is Hong Kong-incorporated Dairy Farm Company – itself a portfolio company of British conglomerate Jardine Matheson – possibly contributed to the surprise national security review.

    Currently, three separate regulations govern national security reviews in China: a February 2011 State Council notice establishing the current system; Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) implementation rules issued in August 2011; and a State Council notice regarding free trade zones issued in April 2015.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    A proposed ex-ante tool for monitoring digital markets which would allow competition regulators to impose remedies absent an infringement is based in part on the Dutch regulator’s significant market power mechanism, the head of the Dutch agency said in Brussels today (20 November).

    The Autoriteit Consument en Markt (ACM) has significant experience imposing remedies in the telecoms sector absent infringement proceedings through the use of its significant market power regime, said Martin Snoep, head of the authority at a PaRR Benelux event.

    Snoep said that the idea – outlined in a joint memorandum by the three Benelux authorities– is to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution at the EU level that would allow the European Commission (EC) to investigate fast moving markets and to impose remedies, preferably through a negotiated outcome, without opening infringement proceedings.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • A Spanish second-instance court has decided to file a request for preliminary ruling before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding subsidiaries’ liability in infringements committed by parent companies in the context of the Spanish truck cartel litigation.

    According to a recent order seen by PaRR, the Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona will ask the ECJ whether its doctrine on “economic unity” allows for liability to be extended from subsidiary to parent company or from parent company to subsidiary indiscriminately.

    Hundreds of damages claims have been lodged in Spain by truck owners following the July 2016 European Commission (EC) settlement decision imposing a EUR 2.92bn penalty on truck makers DaimlerIvecoVolvo/Renault and DAF for fixing the prices of heavy and medium heavy trucks between 1997 and 2011.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    Two Spanish commercial courts have recently granted damages to claimants seeking redress for a European truck cartel, but have reached new conclusions concerning the due costs and interest.

    An Oviedo court ordered Daimler to pay EUR 12,734 to a claimant, but found that the firm must only pay interest accrued since the filing of the claim, while a Pontevedra judge, who also granted damages, instructed MAN to bear the costs of the proceedings due to its obstructive strategy.

    The actions follow the July 2016 European Commission (EC) decision imposing a EUR 2.92bn penalty on truck makers Daimler, Iveco, Volvo/Renault and DAF for fixing the prices of heavy and medium heavy trucks between 1997 and 2011.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is likely to witness a change in antitrust unit leadership in the near future as a result of internal rotation of bureau chiefs, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

    Wu Zhenguo, the current director-general of the Antimonopoly Bureau (AMB), is expected to be relocated to another position within SAMR, according to the sources. 

    The personnel change has been under discussion since SAMR’s new chief Xiao Yaqing took office in May this year, when he replaced former chief Zhang Mao, the sources added.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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    A chain of cases before German courts over the next few months are set to steer how licensing for connected cars in the 5G era is managed as judges hear arguments in Europe's first such standard-essential patents (SEP) litigation, three people familiar with the matter told PaRR.

    Munich regional court's 21st civil chamber, with Tobias Pichlmaier as presiding judge, will hear arguments tomorrow (30 October) in two cases relating to separate SEPs in a series of infringement actions filed by Nokia against German carmaker Daimler.

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.

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  • The validity of assigned damages claims to a litigation vehicle and of the underlying action came under the spotlight as one of Germany’s largest follow-on actions arising from the truck cartel was heard before Judge Gesa Lutz in Munich’s District Court (24 October).
     
    The case sees Financialrights Claims GmBH (Financialrights) seeking damages of EUR 600m plus interest on behalf of approximately 3,200 potentially injured parties from around 20 EU member states. The claims have been assigned to Financialrights on behalf of the German hauliers’ association ‘Bundesverband Güterkraftverkehr Logistik und Entsorgung’ (BGL) and represent more than 84,000 individual truck acquisitions.
     
    Amongst other issues the court considered fundamental questions surrounding the validity of the statement of claim, whether Financialrights had a legitimate right to bring the claims to court and whether the ultimate claimants had validly assigned their claims to the vehicle.
     
    The court heard that...[continued].
     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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    Israel’s Supreme Court will consider whether a class action for damages following a European Commission (EC) cartel decision has standing in Israel after a district court rebuffed the claim, one of two lawyers acting for the class of plaintiffs has told PaRR .

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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  • Challenges to the Irish High Court’s jurisdiction in ongoing follow-on trucks damages claims are expected to fall away following the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Tibor-Trans decision, the lawyer leading the Irish claims has told PaRR.
     
     
    Evan O’Dwyer of O’Dwyer Solicitors filed 64 damages claims in 2017 on behalf of purchasers following the July 2016 European Commission (EC) decision fining Volvo/RenaultDaimlerIveco and DAF a total of EUR 2.92bn for fixing prices of medium and heavy trucks sold between 1997 and 2011. MAN received full immunity from fines for revealing the cartel.
     
     
    The large group of claimants in Ireland includes hauliers, construction companies and individual purchasers of trucks. Banks and financing companies are being sued along with truck manufacturers.
     
     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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    Cartelists facing applications for collective proceeding orders by the British Road Haulage Association (RHA) and UK Trucks Claim Limited (UKTC) have told a London court today (4 June) that the proposed class representatives’ litigation funding agreements are unenforceable.
     
    In July 2016, the European Commission (EC) found that MANVolvo/RenaultDaimlerIveco, and DAF fixed “gross” list prices of heavy and medium heavy trucks between 1997 and 2011 in a settlement decision.
     
    Whistleblower MAN received immunity from fines, while the remaining companies received penalties totalling EUR 2.92bn.
     
    Non-settling firm Scania was fined EUR 880m for its involvement in September 2017. Its appeal of the EC decision was published in February last year.
     
    The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) decided last month to grant a stay of the main CPO hearing, to await the outcome of MasterCard’s application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the April ruling that Walter Merricks’ 14bn CPO application be sent back to the Tribunal for reconsideration.
     
    The main hearing was originally set for June, but the court instead decided to consider preliminary issues about funding arrangements and costs. The truck-makers, led by DAF, are contending that due to the RHA and UKTC’s “unenforceable” funding agreements, the two vehicles cannot act as class representatives.
     
    Bankim Thanki QC, representing DAF, said that the litigation funding agreements (LFAs) entered into by the RHA and UKTC were “unenforceable” as they constitute Damages-Based Agreements (DBAs) under the relevant law.
     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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  • An unnamed construction services firm in Germany is not required to demonstrate that overcharges caused by the EU truck cartel were not passed on to its clients, a ruling by the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court published today (16 May) shows.

     

    According to the judgment, the Stuttgart court last month upheld most of a lower instance court ruling backing the liability of Daimler for damages caused to the construction company that resulted from its involvement in the 14-year infringement.

     

    The claimant bought 11 vehicles from Daimler between 1997 and 2010, with claims for all but one purchase backed by the courts.

     

    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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    The Amsterdam District Court has ordered 10 claimants including litigation vehicles to show against which truck purchases they are basing cartel damages claims against five manufacturers, according to a 15 May ruling seen by PaRR.
     
    Judges concluded that at least five of the claiming parties did not adduce enough proof of the lorries bought and said they have to show which truck was purchased from who, when and how.
     
    Claimants have until 18 September to produce all the necessary evidence.
     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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  • Four Spanish commercial courts have partially accepted requests for information disclosure filed by several claimants preparing damages suits stemming from a European truck cartel.

     

    According to 13 orders, the courts from Bilbao, Valencia, Donostia/San Sebastián and Logroño supported the disclosure of data regarding truck pricing.

     

    However, they refused applications to order the defendants to disclose information concerning alleged fuel overconsumption or to request the European Commission (EC) to provide its full, confidential decision.

     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
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    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that a Hungarian court has jurisdiction over a cartel damages claim by a logistics firm against DAF concerning trucks purchased through a dealership.

     

    In its ruling, the ECJ concluded that the jurisdiction was based on the fact that the alleged damage arose in the market where prices were distorted, which for the claimant is Hungary. 

     
    PaRR subscribers can read the full article on PaRR here.
     
     
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