Following many years of litigation, the Dutch Competition Authority (NMa) was ordered by the Trade and Industry Court of Appeal to reduce significantly a fine it imposed on Ballast Nedam, a construction company, in 2003 in respect of cartel infringements between’98 and 2001, to € 1.46 million.
The original fine was € 14.6 million, though the penalty was reduced to € 7.8 million in 2006 by the NMa. Ballast Nedam still considered the level of the fine as disproportionate. The company's objections were initially rejected by the NMa and by a specialist competition court in Rotterdam. However, the separate Trade and Industry Court of Appeals recently ruled that the NMa had infringed the principle of equality when it applied another method for setting the appropriate fine in a similar case which resulted in a significantly lower amount.
In its recent decision the NMa has sought to correct this inequality by reducing the fine from € 7.8 million to € 1.4 million. The Trade and Industry Court of Appeals has still to assess whether the NMa adequately fulfilled its obligations under the court order.
This case was led by competition law partner Robert Bosman, with assistance of Luurt Wildeboer.