Private antitrust enforcement


Private actions for antitrust damages: any victim of an infringement of EU or national competition law has the right to compensation harm suffered. All infringers are jointly liable for breaching antitrust law within the European Union. In Italy the damage claims for antitrust infringements have to be brought before the Enterprises Courts located in various districts. The limitation period for bringing actions for damages is five years. The period begins to run from the date of the public authority’s decision that has ascertained the law has been breached (European Commission or national competition authority) or from the date on which the victim has become aware of the infringement and of the damages he has suffered.

The European Commission has tried to ensure that every victim of an anti-competitive infringement may effectively exercise the right to claim full compensation for the harm. In order to achieve this aim, the EC submitted a Directive proposal with certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union. The Directive (2014/104/EU) was approved by the European Parliament in November 2014 and each member states must implement it in two years.

The Directive contains important provisions relating to disclosure of documents and the limitation period for starting proceedings, ensuring a reasonable time for the victims to bring actions. The quantification of harm requires a case-by-case approach, but the European Commission has given some guidance, by providing useful indications for the quantification in some of its decisions. Usually the amount of damages is very significant because of the dimension of involved firms.

The decisions of the European Commission and national competition authorities can be used as proof in civil litigation. The Italian Supreme Court has stated that the decisions adopted by the Italian Competition Authority that ascertain the liability of an undertaking for antitrust infringements could be regarded as “privileged evidence”. As a result, the plaintiff will have only the burden to prove the extent of the harm suffered. As a consequence, this increases the likelihood of a successful conclusion of the case for the plaintiff.

Scoccini & Associati assists companies that are interested in bringing actions to recover damages caused by anticompetitive conduct, choosing Member State with the most favourable jurisdiction to bring the case..