The Court of Milan has rejected Eni’s request for a ‘negative ascertainment', which was aimed to have the court declare there was no cartel (which had been found following a Commission investigation in 2006 and involved a fine of €519 million for participants in a price-fixing ring for synthetic rubber) and that, accordingly, no damages were suffered by the tyre manufacturers. The strategy has been labelled the 'Italian torpedo' and was intended to head off damages actions (specifically, the claim had been brought in Italy in an attempt to hold-off a damages claim which was being threatened in the UK High Court). The Italian court, however, stated that in applying key European legislation on competition, national courts could not make judgments which run counter to European Commission decisions, which a declaration that there was no cartel would have resulted in. The decision is generally viewed as positive for potential claimants seeking to bring a damages claim, subject to the result of any potential appeal that is brought in Italy.
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