European Union: General Court Orders EU To Pay Damages For Excessively Long Court Proceedings In Flat Glass Cartel Case

On 7 June 2017, the General Court ("GC") delivered a judgment in relation to an action claiming damages for excessive duration of judicial proceedings and for an infringement of the principle of equal treatment in connection with the Car Glass cartel case. The GC ruled that the duration of the judicial proceeding was excessive and ordered the European Union to pay Guardian, a flat glass producer, € 654,523 (plus interest) as compensation for the damage suffered. It dismissed the second part of the damages claim.

In November 2007, the Commission adopted a decision in which it imposed a fine on Guardian totalling over € 148 million for its involvement in a cartel in the flat glass market. In September 2012, the GC dismissed in its entirety Guardian's request for annulment of the Commission Decisions (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2012, No. 10, available at In November 2014, however, the Court of Justice of the European Union ("ECJ") ruled that the Commission had breached the principle of equal treatment and reduced the fine imposed on Guardian to € 103.6 million (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2014, No. 11, available at In addition, the ECJ observed that the long duration of the GC proceedings could not be justified. Following the ECJ judgment, Guardian lodged an action against the European Union seeking damages of more than € 43 million as compensation for the injury suffered as a result of: (i) the GC's failure to adjudicate within a reasonable time; and (ii) the Commission and the General Court's "sufficiently serious infringement of the principle of equal treatment". Guardian sought to recover bank guarantee costs, loss profits, non-pecuniary losses and compensatory interest.

Damages linked to the failure to adjudicate within a reasonable time

The GC ruled that the EU's conduct was unlawful because of the excessive length of the proceedings. It first noted that a period of 15 months between the end of the written phase and the beginning of the oral phase of the GC proceedings is considered acceptable in complex cartel cases such as the one at hand. In the present case, the GC found that 41 months had lapsed between the end of the written phase and the beginning of the oral phase, which exceeded the reasonable time period by over 26 months. Accordingly, Guardian's right to adjudication within a reasonable time period, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, had been breached.

The GC then examined the amount of damages allegedly suffered by Guardian. The GC took the view that Guardian was entitled to claim compensatory interest for the costs of a bank guarantee during the time period that exceeded the reasonable time period of 26 months. These costs were estimated at € 654,523.

This is the fifth time that the GC has ruled on damages claims for the excessively long duration of appeals against Commission cartel decisions. The GC previously awarded damages to Gascogne (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2017, No. 1, available at, Kendrion, ASPLA and Armando Alvarez (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2017, No. 2, available at, but dismissed the action brought by Aalbert (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2017, No. 2, available at

Damages linked to "sufficiently serious infringement of the principle of equal treatment"

The GC dismissed Guardian's claim that it suffered damages as a result of the Commission and the General Court's "sufficiently serious infringement of the principle of equal treatment". In essence, Guardian claimed that it had to provide a bank guarantee of € 37 million (in addition to the € 111 million it paid directly to the Commission), on which it had to pay interest. This would not have been necessary had the Commission or the General Court correctly applied the principle of equal treatment (as mentioned above, the ECJ reduced the fine imposed on Guardian from € 148 million to € 103.6 million after taking the view that the principle of equal treatment had been breached). The GC however considered that the bank guarantee taken out by Guardian was not a direct consequence of the unlawfulness of the Commission's decision. Guardian had the option to pay the amount of the fine in full, yet it decided at its own discretion to take out a bank guarantee and, therefore, incur the related costs.

The GC also rejected Guardian's claim that it suffered damages of € 14.8 million (i.e., 10% of the fine) related to a loss of reputation, as the decision created a misleading impression concerning Guardian's involvement in an infringement of competition rules. The GC noted that Guardian had only sought the annulment of the Commission's decision in part, which meant that Guardian had not questioned its actual participation in the cartel. Rather, Guardian had merely contested the gravity of its involvement in the infringement. In any event, Guardian had not substantiated by evidence how the "sufficiently serious infringement of the principle of equal treatment" was likely to have an effect on its reputation beyond the effect linked to its participation in the cartel. The GC rejected on similar grounds Guardian's claim that it suffered loss of reputation as a result of the excessive duration of the proceedings.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.