Much of our work is highly confidential, but we highlight below some of our current cases.
High-voltage power cables
On 2 April 2014, the European Commission found that 11 producers of power cables had been party to an illegal market-sharing cartel for the period 1999 to 2009. The full scope of the cartel arrangements remains unclear, but it is known that they covered underground power cables (over 110 kV) and submarine power cables (over 33 kV) including all products, works and services sold to the customer relating to a sale of power cables when part of a power cable project.
The cartelists were fined a total of €302 million for operating the cartel. Other international competition regulators have also taken enforcement action. Purchasers of cartelised, high-voltage power cables for use in projects such as windfarms, electricity grids and interconnectors are entitled to recover damages, which may be very substantial.
On 19 July 2016, the European Commission issued the largest cartel fine in its history (€2.93bn) against several major truck manufacturers for antitrust infringements, including in relation to the gross list price of trucks over the period 1997 to 2011. Companies that own or lease trucks or otherwise outsource their trucking requirements may have suffered substantial damages.
Financial benchmarking cases
Over the period of the financial crises and more recently, a series of financial institutions colluded to manipulate benchmarks including LIBOR and Forex. Companies that have benchmarked by reference to LIBOR and that trade large sums on the Forex market have lost significant sums of money, which they are entitled to recover.
On 12 December 2016, the European Commission ruled that Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo and Samsung SDI breached competition law during the period 2004 to 2007, issuing fines that totalled €166m. In breach of EU antitrust rules, the cartelists were found to have coordinated prices and exchanged sensitive information on supplies of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (for example, as used in laptops, mobile phones, and power tools). Similar infringements were found in the US. Companies that have purchased lithium-ion batteries or products containing lithium-ion batteries in Europe are entitled to recover damages.
On 27 June 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.42bn for abusing its market dominance as a search engine, giving priority to Google’s own comparison shopping service above others. This is the largest abuse of dominance fine ever issued by the European Commission. A number of comparison websites and search engines have already issued proceedings and we expect many others will shortly do so. The abuse of dominance may have also impacted on consumers, who may have paid more for their products as a result of using Google’s services above others.
Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
On 5 December 2012, the European Commission found several manufacturers of CRTs (as used in televisions and computer monitors) responsible for collusion. This decision is on the back of an additional cartel the European Commission uncovered in October 2011 in relation to CRT glass (a substantial component of CRTs). The collusion took place from 1996 to 2006 and the Commission fined the participating companies c. €1.5bn. The impact of both cartels was to unlawfully inflate the price of CRTs and, therefore, televisions and computer monitors.
Liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
On 8 December 2010, the European Commission found several manufacturers of LCDs (primarily used in televisions and flat screen monitors) responsible for collusion in a worldwide cartel operating between October 2001 and February 2006. The Commission fined the addresses c. €650m. Downstream purchasers of LCDs or products containing LCDs are entitled to recover their damages.
On 19 December 2007, the European Commission found that EEA multilateral interchange fees paid between banks in the MasterCard network on card transactions were anti-competitive. As a result, retailers and any other business that accepts card payments have paid more on those transactions than they should have done. Significant numbers of claims worth billions of pounds have now been issued against both MasterCard and Visa.
We are instructed in relation to the above matters and several other actual or suspected infringements.
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Meet the Competition Litigation team
Our team has cutting-edge expertise in the rapidly developing field of cartel damages litigation.
Our clients include FTSE 100, FTSE 250 companies and global corporations.