Early in May, the French Competition Authority (the
"Authority") published an article concerning its cartel
This publication follows a decision issued by the Paris Court of
Appeal on 19 January 2010 significantly reducing the fines imposed
by the French Competition Council, the former Authority, on steel
companies found to have been involved in cartel activities (see
Community Week issue 456). It also anticipates the release of a
report requested by the French Minister of Economy on sanction
predictability. This report is planned to be sent to the Minister
by the end of May.
The Authority reiterated that cartel fines are calculated based
on four criteria: the seriousness of the practice concerned, the
importance of the damage caused to the economy, the individual
situation of the company concerned and the potential
The Authority also underlined the fact that even though numerous
companies in France had been sanctioned in the recent past
– 234 cases between 2007 and 2009 – the level
of fines was not higher than in other Member States and remained
far below the legal limit of 10% of the companies'
Further, the Authority also remarked that in light of the
financial crisis, the decrease in the ability of a company to pay
fines should only be considered as a mitigating circumstance where
such a decrease in ability is clearly demonstrated.
Finally, there are certain issues which are still being debated,
such as negotiated payment periods, managers' criminal
liability in cases of participation in a cartel, and potential
leniency for directors or managers if they are able to denounce a
The Authority has announced that it will publish guidelines on
cartel sanctions by the end of the year.
To view Community Week, Issue 470 – 7 May 2010
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