In a 27 September 2021 decision published in Q4 in a follow-on action in the context of the truck cartel, the Dortmund District Court assumed that the cartel caused harm. The District Court held that the European Commission’s fining decision contains significant indications demonstrative of the cartel’s price effect. The District Court referred to the cartel’s length, broad market coverage (in this case, more than 90% in the EU and nearly 100% of the German market), lack of product substitutability and degree of organisation, among other things. Referring to established economic theories and empirical research, the District Court held that these factors are core indicators generally indicative of a cartel-related price increase (the empirical principle).
The District Court accorded particular weight to the empirical principle due to the contradictory nature of the expert evidence that the parties had submitted. Nor do the submitted expert statements cancel each other out, according to the District Court. The District Court nevertheless held that the indications led, in any event, to the assumption of a certain extent of damage.
The question of whether it is possible to determine the level of damages and/or conduct an expert investigation to that end will be dealt with at a subsequent stage before a decision is rendered in the present case.