On 25 May 2022, the Amsterdam District Court rendered an interim judgment in a case initiated by Macedonian Thrace brewery S.A. (“MTB“) against Heineken N.V. and its Greek subsidiary Athenian Brewery S.A. (together “Heineken“). In September 2014, the Greek competition authority established that Heineken had abused its dominant position on the Greek beer market by excluding main competitors from the distribution chain as much as possible. MTB is a competitor seeking compensation for the damage. The District Court has already rendered previous interlocutory judgments in these proceedings, which were discussed in Q (2019-2 and 2021-1).
The District Court discussed three subjects. Firstly, the District Court found that Greek law applies, but this was not in dispute between the parties. The parties do have a difference of opinion on the question of whether the claim had become time-barred under Greek law, which was the second subject. The District Court merely provided a preliminary finding because it had not yet established that the alleged conduct had taken place. It based that finding on opinions of Greek professors submitted by the parties. The District Court concluded that the limitation period under Greek law does not commence until the unlawful act has ended and concurred with the infringement period established in the decision. Thirdly, the question was whether the court is bound by the decision of the Greek competition authority. Relevant in this respect is the interpretation of a Greek statutory provision. The District Court usually assesses this on the basis of the parties’ assertions, but here the Court wanted to consult an expert from the International Legal Institute. The parties will be given the opportunity to comment on the announced appointment of experts and the proposed questions to the ILI.