Competition and trade law: Woodpulp decision reviewed

United Kingdom
Main contacts: Richard Taylor, David Marks, Sue Hankey and Richard Eccles (Brussels)

Woodpulp decision reviewed

The Court of First Instance (CFI) has overruled a 1984 Decision of the Commission. The Commission must now review that Decision.

In its Woodpulp Decision of 1984, the Commission fined 43 companies for infringing Article 85(1) of the EC Treaty. Article 85(1) prohibits agreements between businesses which distort competition or which may do so. This Decision was challenged by 26 companies. In 1993, the ECJ substantially overruled the Decision.

Amongst those companies which did not challenge the Decision, were the 9 applicants. They asked the Commission to repay their fines but the Commission refused. The applicants challenged the Decision. In these proceedings, the 9 Swedish applicants who had paid the original fines sought repayment because the decision imposing them had been discredited.

The CFI ruled that the Commission must review the legality of its 1984 Decision to the extent that it related to these applicants and assess whether it was appropriate to repay any of the fines. But the Court rejected a request that the Commission be ordered to refund the fines because the Court cannot issue directions to other EU institutions.