In another significant development for cartel damages litigation in the EU, the General Court of the EU held on 5 June 2014 that claimants may seek recompense from cartelists for losses caused by increases in prices of products supplied by a company that was not a party to the infringement (“umbrella effects”).
This is a boost for consumers and businesses that claim to have suffered losses from cartel activity in the EU. It is consistent with the basic principle under EU law that full compensation should be available to purchasers affected by a cartel.
As a result of the case, a victim of umbrella pricing does not need to show that it had contractual links with the cartelists. It just needs to be established that, in the circumstances of the case, the cartel was liable to result in umbrella pricing being applied by third-party suppliers, from which the claimant had made purchases. This is justified because, as the court held, “a cartel can have the effect of leading companies that are not a party to it to raise their prices in order to adapt them to the market price resulting from the cartel, a matter of which the members of the cartel cannot be unaware.”