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The Role of Private Enforcement in EC Competition Law: The Commission's Green Paper on Private Enforcement

March 9, 2006 • Brussels, Belgium

The decentralisation of the enforcement of community antitrust law set in place by regulation 1/2003 envisages enforcement not only by national competition authorities, but also through litigation between private parties before the national courts. The new system strengthens the opportunities to seek and obtain effective relief before the national courts. The European Court of Justice emphasized the importance of enforcement by private parties in its ruling on Courage v Crehan, holding that national courts must provide a remedy in damages for the enforcement of the rights and obligations created by Article 81 EC.

While several advantages to greater private enforcement have been anticipated (greater deterrence against infringements and compliance with law, more effective decentralized system, speedier interim relief, recovery of legal costs etc.), the number of successful claims for infringement of EC competition law has so far been limited. With a view to improving the conditions for private enforcement, the Commission has undertaken a study to identify and analyze the obstacles in the member states to successful action against infringements of EC competition rules.

As a next step, the Commission is working on a green paper on private enforcement. Its purpose is to identify obstacles to private enforcement and to propose ways to overcome them. With this seminar, ERA will contribute to the debate by inviting stakeholders shortly after it has been adopted to discuss the ideas set out with experts from the relevant disciplines. 

Kent Gardiner will be participating in this day-long event. Kent will be one of only two lawyers in private practice to appear in the seminar. The other speakers are high level officials, judges etc (e.g. the EU Commissioner for Competition herself, the Director General, the president of the German Federal Cartel Office, judges from the ECJ, the CFI and the highest national courts).

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