The Role of Private Enforcement within EU Competition Law
36 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2014 Last revised: 30 Oct 2014
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: Suggested Citation