AG Emiliou on damages actions for breach of competition law

Last week (8 February 2024), Advocate General Emiliou delivered his opinion on the case No C-425/22, MOL Magyar Olaj- és Gázipari Nyrt v. Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

The request for a preliminary ruling – lodge on 28 June 2022 by the Supreme Court of Hungary (Kúria) – has been made in proceedings commenced after a Decision, adopted by the European Commission in 2016, in which it concluded that, by colluding on gross list pricing for medium trucks and heavy trucks, several undertakings – including Mercedes-Benz Group AG – had infringed EU competition law.

More specifically, MOL Magyar Olaj- és Gázipari Nyrt, established in Hungary, has a controlling interest in the companies belonging to the MOL group which are established in various Member States. Those subsidiaries have purchased trucks indirectly from the defendant at prices which were allegedly distorted due to the infringement of competition law. In the main proceedings, the applicant is requesting the Hungarian courts to grant an order against the defendant, domiciled in Germany, for compensation in respect of the difference paid in excess, due to the infringement of competition rules. In light of the above, the Hungarian Supreme Court seeks the interpretation of Art 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 as regards whether, in essence, a parent company can rely on the competition law concept of an economic unit in order to establish the jurisdiction of the courts where it has its registered seat to hear and determine its claim for damages for the harm suffered by its subsidiaries.

In the Advocate General’s views, Art 7(2) of Regulation No 1215/2012 must be interpreted as “meaning that the term ‘the place where the harmful event occurred’ does not cover the registered office of the parent company that brings an action for damages for the harm caused solely to that parent company’s subsidiaries by the anticompetitive conduct of a third party, and where it is claimed that that parent company and those subsidiaries form part of the same economic unit”.

On the topics addressed in the opinion, the readers of RDIPP may refer to:

Jürgen Basedow, 2016, No 3, 633 ff.

Moreover, see, in our Book Series:

Costanza Honorati, Book No 45;
Alberto Malatesta (ed.), Book No 63.