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CJEU - C 74/14 / Judgment

Eturas and Others v Lietuvos Respublikos konkurencijos taryba

Policy area:
Competition
Deciding Body type:
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding Body:
Court (Fifth Chamber)
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
21/01/2016

Key facts of the case:

  1. This request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Article 101 TFEU.
  2. The request has been made in proceedings between ‘Eturas’ UAB (‘Eturas’), ‘AAA Wrislit’ UAB, ‘Baltic Clipper’ UAB, ‘Baltic Tours Vilnius’ UAB, ‘Daigera’ UAB, ‘Ferona’ UAB, ‘Freshtravel’ UAB, ‘Guliverio Kelionės’ UAB, ‘Kelionių akademija’ UAB, ‘Kelionių gurmanai’ UAB, ‘Kelionių laikas’ UAB, ‘Litamicus’ UAB, ‘Megaturas’ UAB, ‘Neoturas’ UAB, ‘Top Travel’ UAB, ‘Travelonline Baltics’ UAB, ‘Vestekspress’ UAB, ‘Visveta’ UAB, ‘Zigzag Travel’ UAB and ‘ZIP Travel’ UAB, which are travel agencies, and the Lietuvos Respublikos konkurencijos taryba (the Competition Council of the Republic of Lithuania, ‘the Competition Council’) concerning a decision by which the latter ordered those travel agencies to pay fines for having entered into and participated in anticompetitive practices.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

...the Court (Fifth Chamber) hereby rules: Article 101(1) TFEU must be interpreted as meaning that, where the administrator of an information system, intended to enable travel agencies to sell travel packages on their websites using a uniform booking method, sends to those economic operators, via a personal electronic mailbox, a message informing them that the discounts on products sold through that system will henceforth be capped and, following the dissemination of that message, the system in question undergoes the technical modifications necessary to implement that measure, those economic operators may — if they were aware of that message — be presumed to have participated in a concerted practice within the meaning of that provision, unless they publicly distanced themselves from that practice, reported it to the administrative authorities or adduce other evidence to rebut that presumption, such as evidence of the systematic application of a discount exceeding the cap in question.

It is for the referring court to examine — on the basis of the national rules governing the assessment of evidence and the standard of proof — whether, in view of all the circumstances before it, the dispatch of a message, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, may constitute sufficient evidence to establish that the addressees of that message were aware of its content. The presumption of innocence precludes the referring court from considering that the mere dispatch of that message constitutes sufficient evidence to establish that its addressees ought to have been aware of its content.