Germany court begins case against chem firms for cartel damages

16 December 2010 21:30  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--A court in Dortmund, Germany, on Thursday began hearing a US-style class-action lawsuit against five chemical firms for damages that arose from violations of EU competition law, the plaintiffs said.

The case goes back to 2006, when the European Commission fined a group of chemical firms, including Kemira, Arkema, AkzoNobel, Solvay and FMC Forest, €388m ($511m) for involvement in a hydrogen peroxide cartel.

Brussels-based Cartel Damages Claims (CDC) said it acquired claims for compensation from 32 pulp and paper makers who were the victims of the cartel that lasted from 1994 to 2000. It did not name the pulp and paper firms.

CDC is specialised in the purchase, preparation and private enforcement of damage claims resulting from the infringement of competition law, it said.

“CDC assesses the effects of anticompetitive behaviour on the prices actually paid in the market in question, and enforces damage claims in its own name and on its own account against cartel members Europe-wide,” it said.

Commentators said the case marked new legal ground for Germany, where courts were sceptical about US-style class-action lawsuits. It remained to be seen whether the court would allow the case to go ahead, they added.

The chemical companies were not immediately available for additional comment as offices had closed for the day in Europe. However, Bloomberg cited spokespersons from AkzoNobel and Kemira as saying that CDC’s case had no merit.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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