Deutsche Bahn Ag and Others v Morgan Advanced Materials Plc: SC 9 Apr 2014

The Court was asked whether claims against MAM for losses suffered by reason of a cartel infringing article 81(1) TEC (now article 101 TFEU) were time-barred, and also as to substantive questions about the nature of the decisions of the European Commission (or European Court of Justice) which bind domestic courts as to the existence of such a cartel. Having themselves disclosed the cartel, they had not been fined, and nor had they been involved in the rejected appeals against the fines. It was now asked whether they could ake advantage of the limitation period generated by that decision. The Court of Appeal had decided that the claim could proceed.
Held: The appeal was allowed. Section 47A of the 1998 Act was to be taken to refer to the Commission Decision, and not to the later decision of the Court.
A Commission Decision regarding the existence of a cartel constitutes a series of decisions addressed to its individual addressees, which remain binding or not according to the lodging and outcome of any individual appeals. A successful appeal by one addressee, establishing that there was no cartel, has no effect on the validity and effects of the Decision determining that there was such a cartel and levying a fine as against another addressee who has not appealed, and even if the appeals against infringement by alleged cartel members other than the appellant had succeeded, that would in European law have made no difference to the findings as to the existence and scope of the ‘complex of agreements and concerted practices’ in the relevant sector to which the Commission Decision found the appellant to have been party.

Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Mance, Lord Sumption, Lord Toulson, Lord Hodge
[2014] UKSC 24, UKSC 2012/0209, [2014] UKCLR 667, [2014] Bus LR 377, [2014] 4 CMLR 33, [2014] WLR(D) 161, [2014] 2 All ER 785
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC, WLRD
Competition Act 1998 47A
England and Wales
CitedMasterfoods Ltd v HB Ice Cream Ltd ECJ 14-Dec-2000
Masterfoods Ltd, a subsidiary of Mars Inc, brought proceedings in Ireland against HB Ice Cream Ltd, a subsidiary of Unilever, for a declaration that its agreements to provide retailers with freezer cabinets on terms that they stocked only HB ice . .
CitedEuropese Gemeenschap v Otis Nv ECJ 6-Nov-2012
ECJ Representation of the European Union before national courts – Articles 282 EC and 335 TFEU – Claim for damages in respect of loss caused to the European Union by a cartel – Article 47 of the Charter of . .
CitedBCL Old Co Ltd and Others v BASF Plc and Others SC 24-Oct-2012
The claimant sought damages after it had been established in 2001 that the defendants had engaged in an unlawful cartel to maintain the prices of vitamins. The defendants had paid fines, and now argued that the claims, begun in 2008, were out of . .
Appeal fromDeutsche Bahn Ag and Others v Morgan Crucible Company Plc and Others CA 31-Jul-2012
The respondent company (MC) had disclosed to the European Commission its own historical involvement in unlawful price-fixing cartels. Other members, but not MC received fines. The claimants (DB) sought damages for their losses arising from the . .
At CATDeutsche Bahn Ag and Others v Morgan Crucible Company Plc and Others CAT 25-May-2011
. .
CitedVincenzo Manfredi v Lloyd Adriatico Assicurazioni SpA etc ECJ 13-Jul-2006
ECJ Article 81 EC- Competition – Agreements, decisions and concerted practices – Accidents caused by motor vehicles, vessels and mopeds – Compulsory civil liability insurance – Increase in premiums – Effect on . .
CitedCommissioners of the European Communities v Assidoman Kraft Produncts Ab and Others ECJ 14-Sep-1999
Wood Pulp II
A decision of the Commission imposing penalties against several business concerns was challenged successfully by some of those penalised. Others who had not made the challenge applied to have the decision annulled for themselves also. The court said . .
CitedA Ahlstrom Osakeyhtio and others v Commission ECJ 31-Mar-1993
ECJ 1. The statement of objections, the aim of which is to provide undertakings alleged to have infringed the rules of competition with all the information they need to enable them to defend themselves . .
CitedEnron Coal Services Ltd (In Liquidation) v English Welsh and Scottish Railway Ltd (No 2) CA 19-Jan-2011
Section 47A of the 1997 Act has the effect that ‘the defendant cannot deny that it has committed whatever infringement the regulator has found’ and that ‘the decision that there was an infringement, and a particular infringement, is conclusive’: . .
CitedGalp Energia Espana SA v European Commission ECJ 16-Sep-2013
Some of the addressees of a Commission Decision had appealed, but they sought annulment of the Decision as against all its addressees.
Held: ‘Principally, the applicants submit claims seeking annulment of the contested decision in its entirety . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

European, Commercial, Limitation

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.523627