The European Commission has published some interesting statistics about the cartel infringement decisions it has made over the past number of years. The general trajectory of fines over the past 15 years has been one of a steep increase in penalties handed down to cartelists. One investigation, into the market for TV and computer monitor tubes, alone led to around €1.4 billion of fines. This data is important to companies interested in making private competition law damages claims as one element of quantifying the fine handed down to cartelists is how much money the European Commission believes they made from their illegal activities. In other words, high European Commission fines on cartelists suggest the potential for large private claims against the cartelists involved.  Parties should remember that they will generally have a number of years to make a claim after they know about a cartel they were affected by, so infringement decisions from past years can still provide the basis for a good claim. 
Another interesting point from the Commission data is that the overall total of fines for 2015 was lower than in previous years. Is this a sign that the Commission is going soft on cartels? This appears unlikely. It is probably a reflection of the fact that in recent years the Commission has investigated larger, more complex cases (e.g. Libor and other exchange rates) and non-classic cartel cases (e.g. pharma cases).

If you think your business may have been affected by a competition law infringement and you would like to discuss a potential claim with us, or if you would like to be notified of competition law infringements affecting your business sector, please contact a member of our competition litigation team.


Albion Water
We successfully represented Albion Water in its multi-million pound claim for damages, both compensatory and exemplary, against Welsh Water in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, following on from Albion Water's previous Tribunal victories.
We successfully represented Dahabshiil in its application for an interim injunction in the Chancery Division of the English High Court preventing Barclays Bank plc from terminating banking services on the basis that such termination would breach competition law, in particular an abuse of dominance.
Lothian Buses
We acted for Lothian Buses in successfully securing interim orders from the Court of Session against Edinburgh Airport in relation to the airport’s plans to award an exclusive right to run a bus service between the airport and Edinburgh city centre.
John Lewis
We successfully represented John Lewis in relation to a CMA investigation into the pricing of sports bras. The CMA closed the case following a statement of objections and an oral hearing.
John Lewis
We acted for John Lewis in relation to an application for judicial review in the CAT of a decision related to the OFT’s decision to accept undertakings in lieu of a reference to the Competition Commission to investigate the market for extended warranties on domestic electrical goods in June 2012, pursuant to section 154 of the Enterprise Act 2002.
Bowmer and Kirkland
We acted for Bowmer and Kirkland in its successful appeal before the CAT against the OFT’s penalty imposed following the OFT’s investigation into the construction industry resulting in the penalty being reduced by 80%.
A large telecommunications operator
We successfully acted for a large telecommunications operator in relation to an OFT (as was) market investigation into the supply of information and communications technology to the public sector. The OFT closed its investigation and did not make a referral to the CAT following our client’s (and the other companies’) responses to the investigation.
A large telecommunications operator
We advised a large global telecommunications operator on four separate case assessments in relation to its concerns about margin squeeze and predation in European telecommunications markets from 2011 to 2014. This work is on-going.