EU to help citizens, companies sue for antitrust damages
(BRUSSELS) - EU citizens and enterprises will find it easier to sue for damages those companies found to have rigged prices or breached other EU antitrust rules, the European Commission said Tuesday.
Affected parties already have such a right but the Commission said its proposal would "remove a number of practical difficulties ... victims frequently face when they try to receive a fair compensation for the damage they have suffered."
"Infringements of the antitrust rules cause serious harm to European consumers and businesses," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.
"We must ensure that all victims of these infringements can obtain redress for the harm they suffered," Almunia added.
Under the proposal, member state courts would have the power to order companies to disclose evidence when victims claim compensation while private settlements would be made easier.
The Commission also provided guidelines on how to quantify antitrust harm, an "often costly and difficult" process.
Over the past seven years, individuals or companies hurt by anti-competitive behaviour have sued for damages in only 25 percent of the cases, it noted.
In addition, legislation varies across the EU and so "the chances of victims to obtain compensation greatly depend on which member state they happen to live in," a statement said.
The Commission said it also proposed that member states set up "collective redress mechanisms in order to improve access to justice for victims of violations of EU law in general, including competition rules."
The proposal now goes to the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament for approval, with implementation to take two years after that.