24 October 2012
Leading global law firm Mayer Brown has won a landmark case in the UK Supreme Court for BASF, the world's biggest chemicals producer. This is the first antitrust case to be heard by the Supreme Court. The court's judgment clarifies the deadline for bringing follow-on claims for antitrust damages.
BCL brought an antitrust damages claim against BASF in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal on 13 March 2008. BASF had been fined for cartel activity in 2001 by the European Commission. It appealed the level of the fine, but not, crucially, the Commission's finding of infringement, to the EU General Court, which issued a judgment reducing the fine on 15 March 2006. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the claim was time-barred.
Under the UK Competition Act 1998, BCL was required to bring its damages claim in the CAT within two years from date on which BASF was no longer able to appeal the Commission's infringement decision. The question was whether BASF's appeal against the level of its fine, rather than against the Commission's infringement finding, was sufficient to postpone BCL's deadline. The Supreme Court found that it was not. It upheld the Court of Appeal's finding that the claim should have been brought within two years of BASF's deadline for appealing Commission's 2001 decision. BCL had therefore made its claim over four years too late.
Miles Robinson, Litigation & Dispute Resolution partner, said: "Today's judgment is not only a significant one for our client, but also provides certainty to all parties on the timeframes within which cases such as these must be brought."
Gillian Sproul, head of Mayer Brown's London EU & Competition team, said: "This is the latest in a series of important judgments in the BASF case, which has contributed significantly to the development of the antitrust damages landscape in the UK."
The Mayer Brown team was led by Litigation & Dispute Resolution partner Miles Robinson and assisted by head of Mayer Brown's London EU & Competition team Gillian Sproul, Litigation senior associate Mark Stefanini and associate Jonathan Cohen. Mayer Brown instructed Brick Court's Mark Brealey QC and Sarah Ford in the appeal.
Mayer Brown also won another significant case in the Supreme Court today for the liquidators of NewCap Reinsurance Corporation (NewCap Re) on a complex cross border application for enforcement of an Australian preference judgment which will have far-reaching consequences for the way in which insolvencies of multinational groups with dealings with the UK are run.