1 Eur. L. Rep. 1 (1997)

handle is hein.journals/eurlawreo1 and id is 1 raw text is: [1997] EuLR

High Court of Justice, Chancery Division
Laddie J
18 April 1996
B     Competition-Abuse of dominant position- Complaint to European Commission-
Decision of Commission reviewed by Court of First Instance and European Court-
Whether European decisions admissible and conclusive in national court
C   The plaintiff company imported plasterboard into the UK which was offered to
customers at a lower price than the defendants' product. The defendants were in a
dominant position in that market. The plaintiff made a complaint to the Commission
that the defendants had abused their dominant position in breach of Art. 86 of the
EC Treaty. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants had harmed its trade by offering
loyalty rebates to builders' merchants who agreed to purchase only the defendants'
product and by offering delivery priority for customers who were not trading with the
D plaintiff. The Commission found breaches of Art. 86 and imposed severe fines
(Decision 89/22/EEC). The Court of First Instance substantially rejected the
defendants' application for annulment (Case T-65/89). The European Court of
Justice dismissed the defendants' appeal (Case C-310/93P). The plaintiff participated
in proceedings before the Commission and intervened in the cases before both the
Community courts.
E    The plaintiff issued proceedings in the High Court against the defendants claiming
damages for breaches of Art. 86. An order was made for a preliminary hearing of
whether the findings of fact and the conclusions as to the applicability of Art. 86
made by the Commission, the Court of First Instance and the European Court were
admissible and/or conclusive of such issues in the national court. The plaintiff
contended that by virtue of the principles of res judicata, and/or issue estoppel, it was
not open to either party to relitigate the issues which had been determined by the
F   Commission. The plaintiff further contended that it would be an abuse of process and
contrary to European Community law for the defendants to deny the correctness and
applicability of the conclusions of the European proceedings. The defendant
contended that issue estoppel did not apply because the plaintiff and defendants
had not been parties to a lis and because the Commission was not a civil court but an
administrative authority.
1. The proceedings of the Commission were administrative and not judicial and
therefore could not be described as civil proceedings. Since issue estoppel was
restricted to matters arising from civil actions it did not apply to the proceedings
before the Commission. Although the proceedings before the Court of First Instance
H   and the European Court could properly be described as civil proceedings, the plaintiff
and defendants were not parties to a lis and accordingly issue estoppel could not
apply to the European decisions. (Post, p. 12C-H and p. 13A-E.)

D 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
CCC 1091-3297/97/01001-26517.50

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