On behalf of the team

On 3 February 2021, Dortmund Regional Court (Landgericht) ruled that a transport association from North Rhine-Westphalia (its name has been anonymised) is entitled to compensation for damage caused by a railway construction cartel.[1] This association had acquired companies that paid too much for railway superstructure materials as a result of a cartel. On 18 July 2013, the German competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, imposed a fine of EUR 97.64 million on a large number of producers of railway building materials (also anonymised). According to the penalty decision, the cartelists made price, quota and customer protection agreements on the private market in Germany from 2001 to 2011. The Regional Court found that it may be suspected that all tenders for the rail materials in question fell under the cartel during that period. With regard to the damage, Dortmund Regional Court referred to a general study by Oxera from 2009[2] which shows that 93% of price cartel cases results in a price increase. Given the duration of the cartel (10 years) and the size of the cartel (90% of the market participated), damage could be suspected in this case as well. Because the claimants had taken over the damage-suffering companies, they could lodge the claims for damages. The cartelists provided insufficient proof to the contrary and must therefore compensate the damage. The court assumed a prohibited price increase of 10%. Other claims were rejected because although another company had purchased material from the defendants, this company had not indicated why these transactions fell under the cartel.

[1]              Dortmund Regional Court, 3 February 2021, ECLI:NLDE:LGDO:2021:0203.8O116.14KART.00.

[2]              Oxera, 2009: Quantifying Antitrust Damages: Towards Non-Binding Guidance for Courts.