On 16 May 2011 the Queen's Bench Division of the Commercial Court in London ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a claim lodged by Ryanair against the UK entity ExxonMobil Aviation International Ltd and two of its Italian Esso subsidiaries based inter alia on a statutory breach in relation to an antitrust infringement committed by Esso in Italy.
In 2006, the Italian Competition Authority found that Esso Italy participated in a jet fuel price fixing cartel in Italy and imposed a fine of € 66 million. Ryanair alleges that it suffered loss – since it purchased fuel from Esso at Italian airports in the period of 1999-2006. Ryanair now claims at least €9 million in compensation. It lodged its claim in late 2010 before the London Commercial Court.
This judgment constitutes a further step in the development of antitrust damage claim cases, as jurisdiction has been assumed in another country than where the underlying competition law infringement was fined by the national competition authority. Until now, the majority of follow-on actions based on national competition authority decisions was litigated in the same country as where the infringement has been fined by the competition authority. The ruling furthermore shows the willingness of English courts to accept jurisdiction in antitrust damage claim cases, as has been demonstrated in the past in the Cooper Tire judgment. In that case, the English High Court ruled that claimants could lodge their antitrust damage claims in England through subsidiaries not being the addressees of an infringement decision by the European Commission.
ExxonMobil has challenged the ruling of the Commercial Court in London. The hearing in this appeal is scheduled for October of this year.