8 May 2011
Clifford Chance obtains favourable judgment for KONE OYJ in first ever Commission cartel damages litigation
On April 18, the Commercial Court of Brussels issued its highly anticipated judgment in the first ever cartel civil damages claim brought by the European Commission, in relation to damages allegedly suffered in Belgium and Luxembourg by the European institutions as a result of the cartel among elevator manufacturers it had found in its 2007 Elevators and Escalators decision. That Decision at the time of its issuance imposed the largest cartel fine ever by the Commission.
The defendants successfully defeated the Commission's claim insofar as it targeted the Luxembourg entities, on the basis that the Brussels Commercial Court did not have international jurisdiction to adjudicate foreign claims. The defendants also convinced the Commercial Court to submit preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), relating among other things to the fundamental issue of the Commission's ability to act as prosecutor and civil damages claimant in a cartel case.
Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE OYJ was one of the four elevator manufacturers targeted by the Commission's claim. Clifford Chance's Brussels office represented KONE in its defence of KONE in the administrative proceedings before the Commission (leading to KONE receiving the lowest fine of the four major elevator manufacturers), the pending appeal of the Decision before the General Court, and the company's defence against the Commission's damage claim before the Brussels Commercial Court. Partner Thomas Vinje, Counsel Dieter Paemen and associates Anastasios Tomtsis and Anna Morfey advised on competition issues. Litigation counsel Benoit Allemeersch and associate Dorothee Vermeiren represented KONE before the Commercial Court.