Infringements of EU competition law can be very costly. Companies which have infringed competition law face very high fines imposed by the European Commission or the National Competition Authorities (NCAs) in the EU Member States. Implementation of the EU Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions 1 will substantially increase the risks of competition law infringements.
The aim of the Directive is to facilitate citizens and companies pursuing damages claims for breaches of EU competition law before national courts across the EU. It is already well established that EU competition law has direct effect, meaning that anyone can claim compensation before national courts for harm caused to them by an infringement such as a cartel or an abuse of a dominant market position. However, various aspects of individual national legal systems have made this difficult. The new Directive, published in the Official Journal in early December, aims
to remove a number of these obstacles. It obliges the EU Member States to change their laws to facilitate effective redress for victims of cartels and other forms of antitrust violation. While follow-on damages actions are already a common in a number of EU jurisdictions (Germany, Netherlands, UK), the Directive will make these much more common across the whole of the EU.