On 14 May 2014, the General Court ("GC") handed down its judgment (T-406/09) on the appeal by Donau Chemie AG ("Donau Chemie") against the European Commission's decision on the calcium and magnesium reagents cartel (Case COMP.39.396). The GC partially upheld Donau Chemie's appeal, finding that the Commission erred in applying the Leniency Notice by granting an insufficient reduction of the fine in view of the evidence provided by Donau Chemie.
The Commission held Donau Chemie liable for breaching Article 101 TFEU by participating in a price-fixing and market-sharing cartel for calcium carbide powder, calcium carbide granulates and magnesium granulates. In accordance with the Leniency Notice 2002 (2002/C 45/03), Donau Chemie qualified for a reduction of the fine within the band of 30% to 50%. In determining the percentage, the Commission noted that Donau Chemie's reduction would affect the fine that was imposed for the infringements on the calcium carbide granulates market and the calcium carbide powder market, while the evidence provided only added significant value for proving the infringement with respect to the former. On this basis, the Commission concluded that Donau Chemie was entitled to a 35% reduction of the fine that would otherwise have been imposed.
Donau Chemie argued that a reduction closer to 50% was more appropriate on the basis of the value of its cooperation. The GC agreed and considered it appropriate to increase the reduction to 43.5%. Two factors were of particular relevance for this finding. First, the GC noted that it would have been contrary to the Leniency Notice to grant a reduction of the fine concerning only that element of the fine relating to the part of the infringement for which Donau Chemie provided evidence of significant added value. Secondly, the GC took into account that Donau Chemie provided evidence necessary to prove an element of the infringement representing between 30% and 35% of total turnover affected by that infringement. On this basis the GC considered it appropriate to increase the reduction granted in the basic amount of the fine from 35% to 43.5%. This resulted in a reduction of the fine to be imposed on Donau Chemie from EUR 5 million to EUR 4.35 million.