Today, the European Parliament approved legislation governing antitrust damages actions brought in the national courts of EU Member States. The Parliament’s approval was the last significant hurdle and follows several years of debate. The Directive requires the approval of the European Council, which will be a formality as COREPER (which is composed of the Member States’ ambassadors to the EU) has already approved the Directive.
The text of the Directive is available here.
The Directive aims to make it easier for companies and consumers to bring damages actions against companies involved in EU antitrust infringements. The Directive provides that anyone who has suffered harm, caused by an antitrust infringement, can claim compensation for actual loss, for loss of profit and for interest. Compensation should not, however, lead to punitive or multiple damages.
In a major development, claimants in civil law jurisdictions are afforded expanded access to disclosure. The Directive introduces the right to obtain disclosure of evidence from defendants and antitrust authorities, without having to specify each individual document. This is subject to the claimant being able to show, based on facts and evidence reasonably available, that the claim for damages is at least plausible. This threshold aims at preventing fishing expeditions. Documents prepared by an antitrust authority in the course of an investigation and which have been sent to the investigated party - such as a Statement of Objection - are subject to disclosure, after the authority has closed its investigation. Leniency statements and settlement submissions are protected from disclosure.
The Directive also introduces:
Next, the Directive will be presented to the European Council for approval and final adoption. This will take a few weeks. Once it has entered into force, Member States have two years to implement the Directive into national legislation.