On 12 February 2014, Advocate General (“AG”) Wathelet gave an opinion on an appeal by YKK Corp., YKK Holding Europe BV and YKK Stocko Fasteners GmbH (“YKK Stocko”) (together the “YKK Group”) against the judgment of the General Court (“GC”) dismissing their appeal against the Commission’s decision in which the Commission imposed a fine totaling approximately EUR 68 million on YKK Stocko (of which YKK Corp. and YKK Holding were held jointly and severally liable for EUR 49 million) for its participation in a cartel in the markets for other fasteners and zip fasteners. The Advocate General found, firstly, that the General Court had not erred in its assessment of the starting amount set by the Commission for calculating the fine. The Commission had been entitled not to take account of the alleged limited actual impact of the infringement. Further, the starting amount set was not disproportionate. The General Court had also not erred in upholding the Commission's application of the Leniency Notice. However, the Advocate General found that the General Court had erred in its interpretation of Article 23(2) of Regulation 1/2003 in relation to the fine imposed for a second cartel infringement (i.e. the principle of recidivism). The Commission had found that YKK Stocko was solely liable for the infringement, and for the fine imposed, for the period prior to its acquisition by the YKK Group. Its new parent companies were found to be jointly and severally liable for the infringement and the fine after the acquisition. However, in determining the 10% of turnover upper limit of the fine imposed solely on YKK Stocko, the Commission had erroneously used the turnover of the whole YKK group. Only the turnover of YKK Stocko, the undertaking liable for the infringement during the relevant period, should have been used. Similarly, the deterrence multiplier applied to reflect the significant financial resources of the whole YKK Group should not have been applied to the fine for which YKK Stocko was exclusively liable. Therefore, the Advocate General concluded that the fine imposed solely on YKK Stocko should be reduced. Source: Opinion of the Advocate General Wathelet 12/02/2014.