On 25 September 2014, the Amsterdam District Court rejected a request by the claims vehicle Stichting Cartel Compensation ("SCC") to hold preliminary witness hearings. SCC had requested to hear eight individuals on the existence, start, end, duration, scope, content and factual organisation of an alleged cartel in the Air Cargo market. The defendant challenged that SCC had sufficient interest in the preliminary witness examinations. The European Commission issued a decision on the precise topic of SCC's allegations and, once that decision is final, national courts cannot depart form this decision on the basis of Article 16 Regulation 1/2003 (the Masterfoods doctrine). There is no good reason why SCC should not await the publication of the decision and the outcome of the various appeals against this decision.
The Amsterdam Court held that as national courts are bound by the Commission's findings, SCC has no interest in examining witnesses on the start, end, duration and scope of the alleged infringement. In respect of each of those elements, the European Commission decision will ultimately be decisive. Furthermore, SCC had not provided any concrete indication of a longer duration of the infringement than established by the Commission.
During the hearing, SCC had indicated that it also wanted to examine witnesses on the implementation of the alleged agreements, techniques and methodologies used and the effects of the alleged agreements. The Amsterdam Court ruled that it had also failed to substantiate its interests in examining witnesses on these topics.