Brussels -- Companies taking part in antitrust activity in the EU will find it harder to escape compensation claims from individuals and other firms after the Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions is implemented, said the European Commission.
The EC said the Council of Ministers has adopted the Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions which is designed to make it easier for individuals and companies to pursue companies which have been found to operate in a way which restricts competition by a national competition authority in the EU.
While, the European Parliament has still to approve the measure, it is likely to do so by the end of November 2014. Member states will then have two years to implement the directive, according to the EC.
In the past the European Court of Justice has ruled that victims of antitrust infringements should be able to claim compensation for the harm suffered, said the EC. But the rules are different in each country and there are often procedural obstacles which make it unattractive for individuals to pursue companies through the courts, said the EC.
The EC says that once incorporated into national law the directive will mean that :
- National courts will be able to order disclosure to help victims, while protecting legitimate commercial information.
- A decision by the national competition authority will count as proof that the infringement happened
- Victims will have at least a year to make a claim after the local competition authority's decision.
- If the infringement causes price rises to be passed along the chain to the final customer, each final customer will be entitled to compensation. This may be pursued through the equivalent of a European class action.
- It will be possible for victims and the companies involved in the antitrust activity to settle without the courts getting involved unless necessary.
More details on the Directive on Antitrust Damages Action here.