On 18 July 2013, the European Court of Justice ("ECJ") dismissed the appeal of Schindler Holding Ltd. and several of its group companies ("Schindler") against a Commission decision finding that several national subsidiaries participated in an infringement on the market for the sales, installation, maintenance and modernization of elevators and escalators (C-501/11 P).
Schindler's pleas related primarily to breaches of its fundamental rights, in particular the nulla poena sine lege certa principle, the principle of retroactivity, and requirements of a fair process as contained in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The ECJ either found these pleas unfounded by simply referring to existing case law or declared them inadmissible for being too obscure.
Several of Schindler's pleas related to the amount of the fine the Commission imposed. Schindler pleaded that the General Court had incorrectly reviewed the Commission's reduction in the amount of the fine for cooperation. In particular, Schindler argued the General Court had erred by ruling that such a decision can only be challenged when the Commission manifestly exceeds the bounds of its margin of discretion. The ECJ agreed with Schindler that the General Court cannot use the Commission's margin of discretion as a basis for determining whether the Commission applied the Leniency Notice correctly. However, the ECJ did find that the General Court had nevertheless fully reviewed the Commission's decision by examining the evidence relied upon by Schindler in order to determine whether they had provided significant added value.
Finally, Schindler pointed out the fines companies in its group received for their participation in the infringement constituted a disproportionately large percentage of their average aggregated turnover. According to Schindler, a fine not exceeding the ceiling of 10% turnover could still be disproportionate. The ECJ dismissed the plea, considering that the evaluation of the proportionality of a fine should be based on the entire group's inability to pay. The Court considered that a legal person's ability to pay cannot be taken into consideration individually where fines are imposed on an undertaking which constitutes an economic unit and is composed only formally of a number of legal persons.