Key facts of the case:
1. On 16 November 2011 the General Court delivered three separate judgments (2) in which it dismissed separate applications seeking annulment of the Commission’s decision in Case COMP/38354 – Industrial Bags. (3) In that decision, the Commission found that there had been a serious, long-lasting infringement of what was at the time Article 81 EC (now Article 101 TFEU); and it imposed heavy fines on a number of subsidiary companies and their respective parents. This is one of the appeals from those judgements of the General Court. (4)
2. As well as raising novel questions of competition law, these appeals contain complaints that the General Court infringed Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (‘the Charter’) (5) as it failed to adjudicate within a reasonable time. For that reason, it is clearly incumbent upon this Court to try to deal with the appeals expeditiously. In order to accommodate that requirement whilst respecting the need to allow appropriate time for translation, I have divided the issues that I am covering between the three Opinions in the following way.
3.The key legislative provisions, together with a description of the cartel, the procedure leading to the Commission’s decision and the fines imposed, are to be found at points 6 to 34 of my Opinion in Gascogne Sack Deutschland. (6) Because slightly different points are raised in each appeal as to the circumstances in which parent companies are, or are not, responsible for the actions of their wholly-owned subsidiaries, this question is discussed in all three Opinions. My analysis of the issues arising out of the claim that the General Court failed to adjudicate within a reasonable time (in particular, the criteria for determining whether there has been excessive delay and the possible remedies that can be given if that has happened) is contained in this Opinion at points 70 to 150. An examination of the detailed arguments advanced by each appellant in relation to (for example) adequacy of reasoning in the General Court’s judgments is, of course, to be found in the respective Opinions dealing with each appeal. (7)
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The Court should:
– dismiss the appeal;
– declare that the General Court failed to adjudicate within a reasonable time in Case T-72/06 Groupe Gascogne v Commission; and
– order Groupe Gascogne to pay the costs of the proceedings.
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - Articles: 47,48 [paras: 28-38,71-73,114-121,148] : European Convention on Human Rights - Articles: 6,13