18/09/2018 Competition law
The Law on Defence of Competition enables companies, professionals and private individuals to file claims arising from conduct or agreements against the law on competition, in particular when such conduct has been sanctioned by Spanish or community competition authorities (European Commission, CNMC or other autonomous authorities in competition).
The abuse of a dominant position in contractual relations (distribution, supply, franchising agreements…) and, in particular, the existence of cartels for artificially setting prices or commercial conditions generate major economic harm for competitors, clients and suppliers of the infringing companies.
Some significant examples of companies taking part in cartels which have been sanctioned by competition authorities include organisations in sectors such as sugar or milk, truck manufacturers or financial institutions who have set conditions resulting from covering interest rates in financing operations for companies.
In spite of the fact that the CNMC has imposed large fines on a large number of infringing companies, the organisations and professionals adversely affected by these have not received compensation for the damages caused by such conduct in the form of extra costs and loss of opportunities.
To lodge the proper claims for damages, the damaged companies must file the relevant claims against the infringing companies at commercial courts. Likewise, it is sometimes necessary to bring action against the directors or managers liable for the infringement. Due to the large sums involved in this type of claims which to a great extent depend on the duration of the cartel and the extra costs that this has caused for the parties affected, the legal professionals handling this type of case must not only have consolidated experience in the field but also have the most reliable expert studies available.
In some contexts, claiming for damages is an obligation for the directors and management of the damaged companies as they could otherwise face personal claims for liability through failure to take action or passivity. This is particularly the case when the damaged party is the Public Administration or a public company, whose managers have the legal obligation to take the measures required for protecting the public interests with which they have been entrusted.
Our services include:
- Strategy and preparation of measures for claiming damages resulting from infringements of the competition law.
- Cooperation in preparing expert reports for quantifying the damage.
- Representation and defence at courts in proceedings in this speciality.
- Strategy and structuring means of defence for infringing companies against claims.
In the case of companies sanctioned for infringements of competition law, it is vital to have proper specialised advice from when the case is opened in order to prepare strategies that can palliate or minimise the risks of administrative sanctions, as well as any stand alone or follow on action for damages that may follow on from this. To this end it is vital to be perfectly familiar with regulations on competition law and of such concepts as:
- Passing on defence,
- Statute of limitation for action.
- Preliminary rulings.
- The operation of discovery.
These and other concepts have been developed by jurisprudence and very often enable neutralising the effect of damages through infringement of competition law or at least of minimising the serious economic consequences that may result from this for the defendant companies.