The Court of Appeal has ruled that a damages claim against BASF arising from its part in a vitamin cartel was time-barred, overruling an earlier decision of the Competition Appeals Tribunal. In 2001, BASF was fined €296 million by the European Commission for price-fixing and subsequently appealed against the fine. In March a number of poultry firms brought a claim for damages against the pharmaceuticals company, seeking damages in respect of losses arising from the cartel. The CAT rejected BASF’s submission that the damages claim was outside of the two year time limit for bringing a claim, holding that the limitation period began from the time when the fine was no longer being challenged in the courts. However, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, stating that the time for bringing a claim began when the European Commission issued its decision that BASF had engaged in a cartel and in this case, that period had expired and can only proceed if the CAT grants an extension of time. The decision could result in future cartel damages claims being brought as soon as a finding of an infringement is made, rather than waiting for appeals against the sanction imposed to take place.
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