The EU has given its final ruling on the Scania Cartel fine appeal upholding the original €880m penalty imposed on Scania in September 2017.
The original claim:
The European Commission originally found in September 2017 that three entities of the Scania group, which produced and sold heavy goods vehicles had infringed TFEU art.101 and the Europe Economic Area (‘EEA’) Agreement art.53 by participating in a collusive arrangement with their competitors, aimed at restricting competition on the market in the EEA between January 1997 to January 2011. Whilst Scania originally demonstrated its willingness to participate in settlement discussion, they subsequently withdrew from this procedure.
Scania initiated an appeal against the European Commission’s judgement to the General Court. By a judgement dated 2 February 2022 the General Court dismissed the action to annul the Commission’s decision upholding the fine of €880,523.000.
The Court of Justice:
The Court of Justice have, today, dismissed Scania’s claim in its entirety, thereby upholding the General Court’s judgement.
Scania has not succeeded in demonstrating that the General Court failed to assess whether the administrative procedure, resumed against Scania after its withdrawal from the settlement procedure (which allows parties in cartel cases to acknowledge their liability and to receive, in exchange, a reduction in the amount of the fine imposed) complied with the principle of impartiality.
The Court of Justice also dismissed Scania’s arguments that the General Court had wrongly characterised the geographic scope of its conduct at German level meetings as extending to the entire territory of the EEA.
Finally, the Court of Justice addressed Scania’s argument regarding the limitation period and held that the infringement at issue ended on 18 January 2011 and so the five-year limitation period only began to run from that date. This meant that the Commission’s power to impose a fine was not time barred.
The appeal represents the end of the road in terms of Scania’s legal challenge of the fine imposed by the Commission.
It will be interesting to see how the truck manufacturers who settled with the commission and are currently defending civil claims across Europe approach the decision. Of equal interest will be whether the Court of Justice decision leads to a fresh wave of claims against Scania.