Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has brought a close to the so-called “Schienenfall” (rail case) and imposed a fine amounting to millions of euros on a rail company for illegal price-fixing agreements.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: In what has been termed the “Schienenkartell” (rail cartel) case, fines totalling around 100 million euros were imposed on eight companies as early as July 2013 after proceedings had been brought to an amicable end. However, it proved impossible to bring proceedings to an amicable conclusion in the case of one company.
This company has now been administered with a fine of 3.5 million euros. According to an announcement from the Bundeskartellamt of March 10, the company had made arrangements with other companies between 2001 and 2011 concerning the distribution of switches and rails with the aim of dividing up tenders and projects among the parties to the cartel. Transportation and construction companies were thus said to have been put at a disadvantage. While it was also said that with this case the final proceedings in connection with the “Schienenkartell” have been brought to a close, it is still possible for appeals to be lodged against the fines imposed.
Illicit arrangements that hinder fair competition can be met with tough sanctions pursuant to antitrust law. In addition to high fines or claims for damages, it is also possible for companies to be faced with criminal sanctions. Furthermore, as the circumstances of the case may require, the executive bodies can also be held liable for infringements of competition law.
Infringements of antitrust law are not always as obvious as in the case, for instance, of illegal arrangements regarding price or quality. Even seemingly immaterial contractual clauses can infringe antitrust law and be punished accordingly. Lawyers who are competent in the field of antitrust law can provide preventive advice, review agreements with a view to possible violations of competition law and develop targeted solution with companies. This also particularly applies to corporate transactions. In doing so, it is possible to avoid potentially time-consuming and costly legal disputes at a later date.
If legal actions have already been filed against a company due to alleged violations of antitrust law, our competent lawyers can assume responsibility for fending off these claims. Conversely, we can assist in asserting claims against companies that have infringed antitrust law or competition law.
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