In a judgment handed down on May 14, 2014, the General Court of the European Union increased the rate of reduction of the fine imposed on Austrian company Donau Chemie for its participation in a cartel for calcium carbide and magnesium based reagents, to 43.5 percent, compared to the 35 percent reduction granted by the European Commission, due to the company’s cooperation as part of a leniency application.
It should be noted that, according to the communication on leniency made in 2002, the first cartel member not meeting the conditions of complete immunity but providing evidence representing significant added value to elements which the Commission already has in its possession, can obtain a reduction of the fine imposed of between 30-50 %.
In the case reported, the Commission had considered that the information provided by Donau Chemie, following searches of its premises, only constituted added value in relation to one part of the cartel. While it committed a single infringement, the Commission concluded that the reduction could only be applicable to the fine specific to the part of the infringement for which the company had provided evidence of significant added value.
It is therefore not surprising that the Court reminded the Commission that, in order to determine the appropriate rate of reduction granted in order to reward a company for its cooperation, the relevance of the evidence provided by the company must be assessed for the cartel as a whole and not only for the part in which the company participated.