On 22 April 2021, another truck cartel Opinion was issued by an Advocate General at the Court of Justice. This time, it concerned the case RH (name kept anonymous) v. Volvo AB, Volvo Group Trucks Central Europe GmbH, Volvo Lastvagnar AB and Volvo Group España SA (“Volvo”), which had been instituted before the Madrid Commercial Court. Acting Advocate General J. Richard de la Tour considered a question of jurisdiction put by the Commercial Court. Volvo took the position that the Madrid Commercial Court did not have jurisdiction to handle the antitrust damages case because “the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur” from Article 7(2) of Brussels I Regulation Recast was not within that Court’s district. According to Volvo, the place in question was the place where the competition arrangements for trucks were established (i.e. where the cartel agreements were made), and that was not in Spain. The claimant had asserted that the place where its registered office was located, within the district of Madrid, could also be considered as such.
The Advocate General concluded that the place where the affected market is located falls under Article 7(2) of Brussels I Regulation Recast. In addition, the Advocate General concluded that the place where the injured party’s registered office is located may also fall under Article 7(2), because this interpretation fosters effective legal protection under competition law. Otherwise, a company that had purchased trucks in various Member States would have to initiate (the same) antitrust damages proceedings in those various States, which would hardly be efficient. The Advocate General did emphasise, however, that Member States are free to give certain courts exclusive jurisdiction to hear antitrust damages cases.