EU Competition Law: EU Antitrust Damages Directive

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - 30 April 2014

On 17 April 2014, the European Parliament adopted a draft Directive relating to damages actions following breach of EU and EU Member State competition laws.  The Parliament’s adoption paves the way for the Directive to be adopted by the Council of the European Union, thereby becoming law.  The Directive will make it easier for victims of competition law infringements to bring claims for damages in EU Member State courts. The Directive also attempts to ensure that “whistleblowers” will not be deterred from coming forward because of the risk that they will be subject to follow-on damages claims.

The Directive is wide-reaching and will affect a number of aspects of civil damages claims in the EU, including access to and use of evidence, the evidential weight in damages claims of infringement decisions taken by national competition authorities, joint and several liability for damages by members of cartels, limitation periods, the availability of a passing-on defence, and the evidential standard that claimants need to meet to demonstrate loss that justifies awarding damages.

The Directive will enter into force 20 working days after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. EU Member States then have two years to implement the Directive in their national law. For a number of EU Member States, this will require significant changes to their rules on civil litigation procedure.