On 31 May, the Amsterdam District Court ruled on its jurisdiction without questions for a preliminary ruling. These proceedings were initiated by Wolfson Capital Ltd (“Wolfson“) which sought damages on behalf of those it represents from Google Netherlands B.V., Google LLC and Alphabet Inc. (“Google“) for abuse of a dominant position regarding price comparison websites, for which Google LLC and Alphabet Inc. were fined by the Commission.
According to Wolfson, based on the findings in Sumal, Google Netherlands could be used as an anchor defendant because it was part of the same company as Google and Alphabet and was therefore also jointly and severally liable for the infringement. This satisfies the requirement of ‘connection’ as required on the basis of Article 7 DCCP (the Dutch equivalent of Article 8(1) of Brussels I Regulation Recast). Google asserted that, on the basis of substantive law, the Dutch subsidiary could not be held liable for damage for the infringement of competition law, thereby removing jurisdiction vis-à-vis the American parties.
The Dutch court did not concur with that defence. The court went through the requirements for liability of Google Netherlands and found that it could be prima facie assumed that Google Netherlands was jointly and severally liable for the damage, and that this thus also established jurisdiction. The proceedings were to be continued with a substantive discussion of the claim seeking liability. This judge (mr. Jongeneel) at the Amsterdam District Court thus chose a diametrically different position than the judges of the Amsterdam District Court in the FX judgment (mr. Purcell, mr. Messers and mr. Kruis).