© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A signboard of Daimler AG painted at the IAA truck show in Hanover
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Daimler’s Spanish unit could be liable for damages caused by companies affected by the German automaker’s role in the truck’s antidote. EU sanctioned rights 5 years ago, an adviser to Europe’s top court said on Thursday.
If the court follows the non-binding stance in the coming months, it could pave the way for companies to sue subsidiaries of other cartel members and other illegal price-fixing groups.
In 2016, the European Commission imposed a record € 2.9 billion fine against a corporation that includes Daimler (OTC :), Swedish company Volvo, Iveco, part of the truck and tractor maker. Italy CNH Industrial (NYSE :), and DAF Trucks, are owned by the American company Paccar (NASDAQ :).
The Daimler fine was the largest at 1.01 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) while the Volkswagen-owned MAN avoided the penalty for notifying the EU competition watchdog about the cartel.
Spanish company Sumal SL later claimed 22,000 euros of damages from Mercedes Benz Trucks España SL, a subsidiary of Daimler, saying that the money was a premium paid to the company to buy the Daimler truck. . It indicates that the price would be lower without cartels.
A Spanish court then asked the European Union’s Court of Justice (CJEU) based in Luxembourg, Europe’s highest authority, for guidance.
“A national court can order a subsidiary to compensate for damages caused by the parent company’s anti-competitive conduct in the event that the Commission applies only the penalty to that parent company,” said Giovanni. Pitruzzella, defense general at the European Union’s Court of Justice (CJEU) based in Luxembourg, said in a non-binding view.
“In that case, the two companies have to operate in the market as a single commitment and the subsidiary has to contribute to the achievement of the goal and to concretize the effects of that behavior,” he said.
The court followed the advisers’ recommendations in about 4 out of 5 cases. The cartel, which runs for 14 years, fixes prices and coordinates the timing of the introduction of new emission technologies in 1997 and transfers the costs of those new technologies.
The case is C-882/19 Sumal.
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