Atlantic Container Line AB and Others v Commission of the European Communities.

JurisdictionEuropean Union
ECLIECLI:EU:T:2003:245
CourtGeneral Court (European Union)
Docket NumberT-191/98,,T-214/98,T-212/98
Date30 September 2003
Celex Number61998TJ0191
Procedure TypeRecurso de anulación - infundado
Joined Cases T-191/98, T-212/98 to T-214/98


Atlantic Container Line AB and Others
v
Commission of the European Communities


«(Competition – Liner conferences – Regulation (EEC) No 4056/86 – Block exemption – Individual exemption – Collective dominant position – Abuse – Service contracts – Accession to the conference – Alteration of the competition structure – Withdrawal of block exemption – Fines – Rights of the defence)»

Judgment of the Court of First Instance (Third Chamber), 30 September 2003

Summary of the Judgment

1..
Procedure – Grounds of judgments – Scope

2..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Statement of objections – Preparatory document capable of amendment by the Commission – Power of the Commission to request further information – Limits

3..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Statement of objections – Necessary content – Observance of the rights of the defence

(Council Regulation No 17, Art. 19(1); Commission Regulation No 99/63, Art. 4)

4..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Commission decision finding an infringement – Evidence which may be used

5..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Access to the file – Obligation on the Commission to adduce inculpatory evidence

6..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Commission decision finding an infringement – Exclusion of evidence in documents not disclosed to the parties – Consequences – Relevant objection may not be proved by reference to those documents

7..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Commission decision finding an infringement – Decision not identical to the statement of objections – Infringement of the rights of the defence – Condition – Demonstration by the undertaking concerned that further complaints have been raised

8..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Observance of the rights of the defence – Introduction of new allegations at the stage of the decision finding the infringement – Sanction – Condition

9..
Procedure – Application initiating proceedings – Procedural requirements – Subject-matter of the dispute to be indicated – Pleas in law relied upon to be briefly stated – Clear statement of the pleas in law

(EC Treaty, Art. 173 (now, after amendment, Art. 230 EC); Statute of the Court of Justice, Arts 21, first para., and 53, first para.; Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance, Art. 44(1)(c) and (d))

10..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Access to the file – Purpose – Observance of the rights of the defence – Scope – Inculpatory evidence – Exclusion of evidence in documents not disclosed – Exculpatory evidence – Assessment of the utility of disclosure by the Commission alone – Not permissible

(EC Treaty, Arts 85(1) and 86 (now Arts 81(1) EC and 82 EC); Council Regulations Nos 17, 1017/68 and 4056/86)

11..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Access to the file – Documents not contained in the investigation file – Documents which may be of use to the defence – Infringement of the rights of the defence – Conditions

12..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Access to the file – Documents not contained in the investigation file and which the Commission does not intend to use as inculpatory evidence – Commission's obligation to make those documents accessible to the parties on its own initiative – None

13..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Access to the file – Limits – Undertaking in a dominant position and able to adopt retaliatory measures towards Commission informants

14..
Actions for annulment – Actionable measures – Definition – Statement of objections – Exclusion

(EC Treaty, Art. 173 (now, after amendment, Art. 230 EC)

15..
Competition – Administrative procedure – Communication by the Commission to the undertakings concerned of a large number of requests for information after the adoption of a statement of objections – Limit of that burden – Observance of the rights of the defence

16..
Transport – Maritime transport – Competition rules – Block exemptions – Strict interpretation – Services which are not maritime transport services within the scope of Regulation No 4056/86 – Exclusion

(EC Treaty, Art. 85(1) (now Art. 81(1) EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Arts 1(2) and 3)

17..
Competition – Community rules – Application by reference to the national practices of the Member States or of certain non-member States – Not permissible

(EC Treaty, Art. 85 (now Art. 81 EC))

18..
Competition – Dominant position – Collective dominant position – Definition – Liner conference

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Art. 1(3)(b))

19..
Competition – Dominant position – Collective dominant position – Existence – Means of identification – Taking into consideration an agreement even though prohibited by Article 85(1) of the Treaty (now Article 81(1) EC)

(EC Treaty, Arts 85(1) and 86 (now Arts 81(1) EC and 82 EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Art. 1(3)(b))

20..
Competition – Dominant position – Collective dominant position – Definition – Requirement that all competition between undertakings be eliminated – None

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

21..
Competition – Dominant position – Collective dominant position – Definition – Liner conference – Exclusion in the case of substantial internal competition

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

22..
Competition – Dominant position – Collective dominant position – Definition – Liner conference – Irrelevance, in principle, of other forms of competition when faced with a common price strategy

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

23..
Competition – Dominant position – Relevant market – Delimitation – Criteria

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

24..
Competition – Dominant position – Existence – Holding of extremely large market shares – Generally sufficient evidence

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

25..
Competition – Dominant position – Meaning – Presumption of dominance when holding more than half of the market share

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

26..
Competition – Maritime transport – Dominant position – Holding of large market shares – Generally sufficient evidence

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Art. 8)

27..
Competition – Dominant position – Meaning – Ability to impose regular price increases – Not an essential factor

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

28..
Competition – Dominant position – Abuse – Exemption – Exclusion – Obligations incumbent upon dominant undertakings – Ability of the dominant undertaking to protect its commercial interests provided that it does not reinforce its dominant position or abuse it

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

29..
Competition – Community rules – Scope ratione materiae – Conduct imposed by State measures – Precluded – Conditions

(EC Treaty, Arts 85 and 86 (now Arts 81 EC and 82 EC))

30..
Competition – Dominant position – Abuse – Meaning – Creation or strengthening of a dominant position – Liner conference – Acceptance of new members – Factor capable of constituting an abuse

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

31..
Transport – Maritime transport – Competition rules – Block exemptions – Regulation No 4056/86 on maritime transport – Strict interpretation

(EC Treaty, Art. 85(1) (now Art. 81(1) EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Arts 1(3)(b) and 3)

32..
Competition – Agreements, decisions and concerted practices – Notification – Effects – Benefit of immunity from fines – Need for express provision – Immunity not provided for in Regulation No 1017/68

(EC Treaty, Arts 85 and 86 (now Arts 81 EC and 82 EC); Council Regulation No 1017/68)

33..
Competition – Agreements, decisions and concerted practices – Notification – Effects – Immunity from fines under the second paragraph of Article 19(4) of Regulation No 4056/86 on maritime transport – Scope – Infringement of Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty (now Articles 81 EC and 82 EC)

(EC Treaty, Arts 85 and 86 (now Arts 81 EC and 82 EC); Council Regulation No 4056/86, Art. 19(2)(a) and 4(2))

34..
Competition – Fines – Amount – Determination thereof – Division of an overall amount between different groups of undertakings constituted on the basis of size of undertakings which participated in the infringement – Whether permissible – Conditions

(Council Regulation No 17, Art. 15(2))

35..
Competition – Fines – Decision imposing fines – Obligation to state reasons – Scope – Statement of the factors by which the Commission assessed the gravity and duration of the infringement – Sufficient statement

(EC Treaty, Art. 190 (now Art. 253 EC); Council Regulation No 17, Art. 15(2))

36..
Competition – Fines – Amount – Determination thereof – Criteria – Seriousness of the infringement – Undertaking a member of a liner conference – Assessment on the basis of total turnover of the undertaking – Whether permissible – Taking into account of other factors specific to each member undertaking – No obligation

(Council Regulations Nos 17, Art. 15(2) and 4056/86, Art. 19)

37..
Competition – Fines – Amount – Determination – Commission's margin of discretion – Economic operators precluded from relying on a legitimate expectation that an existing situation will be maintained – Raising of the general level of fines – Whether permissible – Conditions

(Council Regulations Nos 17, 1017/68 and 4056/86)

38..
Competition – Fines – Amount – Determination – Mitigating circumstances – Notification of an agreement which facilitated the finding that the practices stipulated by that agreement were abusive

(Council Regulation No 17)

39..
Competition – Dominant position – Abuse – Meaning – Practices arising in contracts for services between a shipper and a liner conference or a carrier

(EC Treaty, Art. 86 (now Art. 82 EC))

40..
Non-contractual liability –...

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19 practice notes
  • DaimlerChrysler AG v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 15 September 2005
    ...of making known their views (see, inter alia, Case 41/69 ACF Chemiefarma v Commission [1970] ECR 661, paragraph 94, and Joined Cases T-191/98 and T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 113). However, the Commission’s final decision is n......
  • EDP - Energias de Portugal, SA v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 21 September 2005
    ...71 and 72; Joined Cases C-359/95 P and C-379/95 P Commission and France v Ladbroke Racing [1997] ECR I-6265, paragraph 33; and Joined Cases T-191/98 and T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 1130). Likewise, the Court of First Ins......
  • France Télécom SA v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 8 March 2007
    ...the duty of the competent institution to examine carefully and impartially all the relevant aspects of the individual case (Joined Cases T-191/98 and T‑212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II‑3275, paragraph 404). 95 In this case, the applicant claim......
  • Alrosa Company Ltd v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 11 July 2007
    ...to protect the rights of the defence and to ensure, in particular, that the right to be heard can be exercised effectively (Joined Cases T-191/98 and T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 334, and Case T-38/02 Groupe Danone v Comm......
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18 cases
  • Dresdner Bank AG and Others v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 27 September 2006
    ...the applicants did not have access during the administrative procedure. Those documents must therefore be excluded as evidence (Joined Cases T-191/98 and T‑212/98 to T‑214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 338; see also, to that effect, Case 10......
  • DaimlerChrysler AG v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 15 September 2005
    ...of making known their views (see, inter alia, Case 41/69 ACF Chemiefarma v Commission [1970] ECR 661, paragraph 94, and Joined Cases T-191/98 and T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 113). However, the Commission’s final decision is n......
  • EDP - Energias de Portugal, SA v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 21 September 2005
    ...71 and 72; Joined Cases C-359/95 P and C-379/95 P Commission and France v Ladbroke Racing [1997] ECR I-6265, paragraph 33; and Joined Cases T-191/98 and T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 1130). Likewise, the Court of First Ins......
  • Le Carbone-Lorraine v Commission of the European Communities.
    • European Union
    • General Court (European Union)
    • 8 October 2008
    ...the method for setting the fine (see, to that effect, Cascades v Commission, cited in paragraph 85, paragraphs 38 to 47; see also Joined Cases T-191/98, T-212/98 to T-214/98 Atlantic Container Line and Others v Commission [2003] ECR II-3275, paragraph 1532). Statements of figures relating t......
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1 firm's commentaries
  • Information Exchange 2019 – European Union
    • European Union
    • Mondaq European Union
    • 18 July 2019
    ...in terms of costs of access to all competitors and consumers) are unlikely to constitute an infringement of article 101(1) (see joined Cases T-191/98, etc, Atlantic Container Line and others v Commission, para 1154). Information referred to as being 'in the public domain' will not be consid......
1 provisions

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