General Court considers fines in removal services cartel appeals

In March 2008, the Commission imposed fines of €32.76 million on 10 undertakings relating to a cartel on the international removals market between 1984 and 2003. The Commission found the infringing companies had fixed prices, provided cover bids and provided financial compensation for lost bids.  

Five companies (along with certain parent companies) appealed to the Court to reduce or rescind their fines and the Court handed down its judgments on 16 June 2011. The Court rejected in totality the arguments pleaded by Team Relocations, Amertranseuro International, Putters International and Ziegler and their respective fines therefore remain.  

However, Gosselin’s fine was reduced by €1.06 million as the Court held that the Commission had only proven that Gosselin had participated in the infringement for seven years and six months (not ten years and seven months as originally assessed by the Commission).  

The Court additionally held that Stichting Administratiekantoor Portielje's fine should be rescinded, as it should not be considered an undertaking for the purposes of competition law (the entity was not active on any market and was simply a share holding company, the rights to which were non-negotiable). Moreover, the Court held the Commission made an error in attributing Gosselin’s liability to Stichting Administratiekantoor Portielje.  

Verhuizingen Coppens pleaded that, as the Commission's decision had stated that it was the only company not to have engaged in “commissions” and as the Commission had not established that the company was aware of that agreement, the Commission was not entitled to find it had participated in a single and continuous infringement covering all of the anti-competitive conduct. The Court agreed and therefore their fine was also rescinded.