The Netherlands appears to be an attractive jurisdiction for cartel damages proceedings for both cartel victims and cartel members. In two recent cartel damages rulings, concerning the air-cargo and gas-insulated switchgear cartels, the Dutch courts have kept up the pace.
Beware of competition rules when introducing incentive programmes. A district court recently assessed the anti-competitive effects of a bonus programme introduced by Mars, whereby Mars enticed vendor petrol stations to display its products prominently. The practice was compared to a category management agreement. Expert advice is needed before reaching conclusions on its appreciability.
In light of revised European Commission guidance for conducting dawn raids, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will develop a new policy after reviewing consultation submissions. The ACM aims to draft a uniform procedure to replace the separate guidelines of the three regulators that merged to form the ACM. Final guidelines should be issued by the end of 2013.
The Court of Appeal of The Hague recently ruled that the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) can order a forensic IT firm to produce a list of companies active in the sector under ACM investigation for which it has carried out competition compliance audits. The court held that the ACM has a legitimate interest in obtaining this list, since the results could be used to destroy evidence of possible anti-competitive conduct.
The Authority for Consumers and Markets has imposed a fine of €500,000 on car dealer Motorhuis and its holding companies Markeur Holding and Markeur Houdster for failure to notify Motorhuis's acquisition of the Bulters Group activities, thus following the same line of parental liability that it applies in cartel cases.
The protracted dispute on the scope of a company's right to remain silent appeared to have been settled by the December 2012 ruling that ex-employees can invoke this right when questioned by the Authority for Consumers and Markets in connection with an investigation into their former employer. However, a recent bill explicitly excludes ex-employees. Is this an oversight or an attempt to limit a company's rights unnoticed?