The European General Court has allowed Soliver NV—a relatively small glass manufacturer active in automotive glass, as well as other areas—to avoid an almost $5.5 million USD (€4.4 million Euros) fine by ruling that the European Commission did not provide enough evidence of the company’s alleged anti-trust involvement. The company had asked the court for an annulment of the Commission’s decision.
Back in 2008, the Commission had imposed fines, totaling $1.7 billion U.S. dollars (1.4 billion Euros), on Asahi, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and Soliver for illegal market sharing and exchange of commercially sensitive information regarding deliveries of automotive glass in the European Economic Area (EEA).
“(The) evidence is not sufficient to prove that the applicant (Soliver) was aware, or should have been aware, of the overall objective of stabilizing the car glass market pursued by the members of the club, by means of a set of collusive practices affecting almost every car manufacturer,” the Court wrote in its ruling regarding Soliver.
“[T]he documents produced by the Commission are likewise incapable of demonstrating that that applicant was aware, or should have been aware, of the essential modus operandi of the cartel, namely (i) the coordination of pricing and discount policies and strategies for the supply of car manufacturers, (ii) the regular organization of bilateral and trilateral meetings between the members of the club in order to monitor market shares and the practical implementation of the collusions, decided during previous meetings, relating to the allocation of particular supply contracts and (iii) the agreement of correcting measures, in the form of compensation in relation to certain supply contracts, where the award of a supply contract had not occurred as foreseen, in order to ensure that the overall supply at European Economic Area (EEA) level remained in accordance with the agreed allocation,” the court added.
Because the European Commission was unsuccessful in its argument, it has been ordered to cover court costs.
“Since the Commission has been unsuccessful, it must be ordered to pay the costs,” the court wrote.
In March 2014, the General Court reduced the fine imposed on Saint-Gobain from $1.2 billion in U.S. dollars (€880 million Euros) to $984 million in U.S. dollars (€715 million Euros).