The Role of Private Enforcement within EU Competition Law

36 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2014 Last revised: 30 Oct 2014

See all articles by Niamh Dunne

Niamh Dunne

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: June 1, 2014


Private enforcement is an increasingly prominent and important aspect of EU competition law. The impending Directive on damages actions aims to strengthen and, to a degree, harmonise procedures for private competition litigation, while recent cases of the Court of Justice have consistently reaffirmed the centrality of the right to claim competition for losses stemming from breach of the competition rules. Moreover, this right has been presented as an essentially unitary one, whereby any victim of any type of competition infringement has, in principle, the right to claim damages.

This article reviews the evolving framework, and considers, specifically, the role for private enforcement within the overall system of EU competition law. Taking into account the Commission’s efforts to facilitate and increase private enforcement, the emerging EU public enforcement framework, as well as the substantive EU competition rules more generally, this article argues that, contrary to the rhetoric, private enforcement is a mechanism best adapted, and arguably most appropriate, for use only in the context of hard-core cartels. It is further suggested that the gap between rhetoric and reality is not problematic as such, yet difficulties may arise insofar as these divergences conflict with the principle of effectiveness.

Keywords: competition law, antitrust, private enforcement, damages actions, compensation, EU law, harmonisation

JEL Classification: K13, K21, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Dunne, Niamh, The Role of Private Enforcement within EU Competition Law (June 1, 2014). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 36/2014, King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2014-37, Available at SSRN: or

Niamh Dunne (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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