The Council of Ministers of 14 January 2017 has approved the Legislative Decree that implements Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union.
In a nutshell, the implementing Decree lays down ad hoc rules aimed at ensuring that anyone having suffered harm caused by an infringement of competition law can effectively exercise the right to claim full compensation therefore.
One of the main new features is the disclosure of evidence. The Judge, upon certain circumstances, will have the power to order the defendant or a third party to disclose relevant evidence held under its control. If neither the defendant nor third parties are in a position to disclose such evidence, the Judge may order the Italian Competition Authority to disclose the relevant contents of the official file.
Another new provision favoring the position of claimants is that on the effects of the decisions of the Competition Authority. An infringement of competition law found by a final decision of the Competition Authority or by lodgment of a review court will be deemed irrefutably established for the purpose of the action in damages. If the final decision is taken in another Member State its relevance will be partly different: it will be considered as evidence of the nature of the infringement, and of its material, personal, temporal, and territorial scope, to be appreciated along with all other evidence adduced by the parties.
The limitation period for bringing actions for antitrust damages is five years and there are provisions identifying the point in time from which limitation commences to run in certain circumstances.
The Legislative Decree furthermore lays down specific provisions on the passing-on of overcharges to the players of the supply chain and the quantification of harm with specific reference to Sections 1223, 1226 and 1227 of the Italian Civil Code and the settlement of actions in damages. There are also provisions foreseeing the resort to class actions to recover antitrust damages.
Finally, the Specialized Chambers of the Courts of Milan, Rome and Naples will be solely competent to adjudge actions for damages for infringements of competition law.
A transitional provision foresees that the new procedural rules governing actions for antitrust damages (such as on the disclosure of evidence, the effects of decisions of the Competition Authority and the settlement of actions) will be applicable to those actions initiated after 26 December 2014 only.