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Unfair trading practices initiatives at national, EU and European Competition Network level initially focused on the food supply chain, but have now been extended to other areas. At the national level, pilot schemes have been set up with a number of representatives of the agro-food sector and the textiles industry to implement a code of conduct.
The East Netherlands District Court has ruled that ABB must compensate Dutch electricity grid operator TenneT for damages that it suffered as a result of the gas-insulated switchgear cartel. The exact amount of damages to be paid to TenneT will be determined in separate proceedings. This is the first substantive ruling on cartel damages in the Netherlands.
The Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal has resolved a long-running dispute on the scope of a company's right to remain silent. It ruled that ex-employees can invoke this right when questioned by the Competition Authority – now the Authority for Consumers and Markets – in connection with an investigation into their former employer.
The healthcare sector is likely to stay on the radar of the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). Not only has the application of the separate notification thresholds for concentrations in the healthcare sector been extended by another five years, but the number of hospitals intending to merge is also rising: the ACM expects a minimum of seven hospital mergers during 2013 and has designated the healthcare sector as a priority.
The Hague District Court recently clarified that if the Competition Authority has a reasonable suspicion about an undertaking, it can order third parties to cooperate and provide data regarding that undertaking which otherwise would not be available. However, the authority cannot order third parties to help it proceed against undertakings about which it has insufficient suspicions.
The Rotterdam District Court has overturned a Competition Authority decision to impose fines on two supervisory board members. The court held that supervisory directors cannot be held personally liable for competition law infringements, except in exceptional circumstances.