Finnish Appeal Court delivers judgement in the asphalt cartel damages case
The Appeal Court of Helsinki delivered its judgement on 20 October 2016 in the asphalt cartel damages case. In general, the Appeal Court slightly reduced the amount of awarded damages.
The Appeal Court held that a number of claims were time barred due to the Act of Limitations and the recent Supreme Court judgement KKO 2016:11 concerning damages claims in the raw wood cartel. The Appeal Court also dismissed certain damage claims which it regarded being based on insufficient causality or evidence.
Contrary to the judgement of District Court of Helsinki from which the appeal was lodged, the Appeal Court awarded damages to the State of Finland amounting to EUR 7.4 million. The District Court had held that the State of Finland was aware of the unlawful competitive practices of the cartel companies through its state enterprise Tieliikelaitos which operated as purchaser on the relevant markets. The Appeal Court held there was insufficient evidence to establish such awareness and awarded damages to the State.
Moreover, the Appeal Court altered the judgement of the District Court and held that certain companies which had acquired the business or equity of asphalt cartel companies after the infringement had ended were not liable for damages towards the claimants. The Appeal Court held that the EU competition law principle of economic succession which applies to administrative fines is not applicable in private enforcement and that liability for damages is a matter which has to be examined under national law.