On 12 June 2014, the Court of Justice handed down its judgment in the case Deltafina v Commission (C-578/11 P). The Court of Justice upheld the General Court's ("GC") findings regarding liability and the removal of immunity for Deltafina's participation in the Italian raw tobacco cartel.
In March 2002, the Commission informed Deltafina that it would grant immunity at the end of the administrative procedure if it met the conditions set out in the 2002 Leniency Notice. The Commission further informed Deltafina that the fact of the immunity application should be kept confidential given that other inspections could not yet take place until the following month. According to Deltafina, in a subsequent meeting it was released from this duty given that it had to disclose its cooperation with the Commission at an upcoming meeting with the National Association of Italian Tobacco Producers. Deltafina proceeded to disclose this to other undertakings which, on the same day of such disclosure, proceeded to file separate leniency applications before the Commission carried out inspections. The Commission contended that Deltafina did not fulfill its duty to "cooperate fully on a continuous basis and expeditiously" because of this disclosure and its failure to inform the Commission of it.
The Commission took the approach that "voluntary and unsolicited disclosure is sufficient to show breach of an obligation to cooperate" unless it is established that such a disclosure had been "expressly authorized" in advance. The GC held that the Commission could not have given Deltafina prior authorization since Deltafina had not notified the Commission in advance its intentions. The GC confirmed Deltafina's breach of the obligation to cooperate and the Court of Justice did not find error in this assessment.
The Court of Justice also confirmed that the obligation to cooperate fully includes an obligation to provide full information on all the facts, which in this case would have included the fact of the disclosure.