Top EU Court Rules That Single Meeting Between Competitors Can Be Breach Of European Antitrust Laws

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On June 4, 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave judgment on a reference from the Dutch courts on the interpretation of Article 81 of the EC Treaty and ruled that a single meeting between five Dutch mobile phone operators in which the companies had discussed the reduction of commission payments made to dealers for the sale of mobile phone contracts to consumers was sufficient to establish a breach of the EU's competition rules. See Case C-8/08, T-Mobile Netherlands BV and Others v Raad van bestuur van der Nederlands Mededingingsautoriteit (June 4, 2009).

The Dutch courts asked the ECJ to clarify whether it was possible for an anti-competitive practice to have resulted from an information exchange at a single meeting when there was no evidence of an ongoing system of information exchange being agreed or undertaken. In addition, the Dutch courts asked whether it was necessary to establish a causal link between the information exchanged and the prices paid by consumers in light of the fact that the information exchanged did not directly impact the prices that the dealers would charge consumers nor the subscription tariffs that would apply under the contracts which subscribers entered into with a chosen mobile operator.

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