European Commission adopts a package on private damages actions in antitrust cases

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On 11 June 2013, the European Commission (“Commission”) adopted a proposal for a directive on how citizens and companies can bring damages claims under EU antitrust rules. According to the Commission, the proposal serves to remove a number of practical difficulties which claimants face when they seek damages in national courts. The suggested measures include expanded access to evidence for claimants, clearer rules on limitation periods, and rules confirming the respondent’s ability to claim the passing-on defence in certain circumstances and the quantification of harm.

As part of the package, the Commission also adopted a recommendation encouraging Member States to set up collective redress mechanisms for victims of violations of EU law in general, including the antitrust rules.

The proposal will now be discussed in the European Parliament and the Council.

Once a final text is adopted, Member States will have two years to implement it in their legal systems. It can be expected that the proposal, if adopted, will facilitate bringing private damages actions in European jurisdictions. Companies must take this increased risk of civil litigation quite seriously.

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