Complex and challenging is an appropriate way to describe the process of filing a claim for damages following a breach of competition law – a hurdle which the European Union (EU) Damages Directive (2014/104/EU) has specifically been introduced to address, even in perceived claimant-friendly jurisdictions such as the UK.

The Directive, which came into force in the UK on 9 March 2017, harmonises the rules for competition claims across the EU, making it easier for claimants to bring competition claims, as well as providing additional tools for defendants. In addition, the Directive encourages whistleblowing and self-reporting by increasing the protection available to immunity and leniency applicants.

Although the UK government’s consultation on the Directive (which took place between January and March 2016) stated that extant UK legislation (i.e., the Consumer Rights Act 2015) closely corresponded with the requirements of the Directive and that no significant changes were required, its introduction does, however, mean amendments to various UK legislation (including the Competition Act 1998, the Civil Procedure Rules and the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) Rules) are necessary.

According to the European Commission (EC), 12 EU member states (at the time of writing) have implemented the Directive thus far. “The EC has, in recent years, actively stimulated private enforcement of competition law,” says Claire Stockford, a partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP. “It has taken various steps to facilitate such claims including by publishing its own Green and White Papers and putting in place specialised training for judges. The Damages Directive is a notable step forward for private enforcement actions in the EU.”

Jul-Sep 2017 issue

Fraser Tennant