On 25 October 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) annulled the General Court’s judgments and overturned over €20m in fines on Solvay, the world’s largest producer of soda ash, for abuse of dominance and price-fixing. The ECJ upheld claims that the General Court had erred in assessing Solvay’s allegations that the Commission had breached of Solvay’s rights of defence.

The ECJ confirmed that there were serious procedural errors. The ECJ found that the Commission had not provided Solvay with adequate access to file of evidence against it. Indeed some of the sub-files were missing, which might have been relevant to Solvay’s defence. The ECJ concluded that it could not exclude the possibility that relevant exculpatory evidence may have existed in the lost documents. The ECJ therefore annulled the decisions against Solvay and ordered the Commission to pay the costs at first instance and on appeal.