Interest is regarded as an essential component of full compensation to make good the damage arising from violations of competition law. According to both the Damages Directive and case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, interest shall be applied from the time when the harm occurred until the time when compensation is paid.
The calculation of interest on antitrust damages is a complex process, particularly given the possible length of time between the moment the damage occurred and the date of final compensation. This may be several decades and considerable changes in the various interest rate regimes may have taken place during that time.
Circumstances in which the appropriate amount of interest is not awarded or in some cases not even claimed can result from diverging opinions of national judges and legislators. The identification of the applicable legal standards in respect of interest to be accrued is typically left to national courts. However, particularly in cases with cross-border effects, no guidance is available.
The interest study
In 2014, CDC commissioned an independent and very detailed study on the calculation of interest on antitrust damages. The study was conducted by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The objective of the study is to serve as a benchmark and reference in cross border cases, particularly in the field of interest calculation for damages caused by cartels.
The study offers all parties involved in complex cross border litigation a systematic and practical account of interest rules in several European jurisdictions while also providing judges and lawmakers with analyses and recommendations for the proper application of interest rules and advice on principles that should inform effective implementation of the Damages Directive.
If national and EU standards were established in a similar vein to the study, certain challenges in calculating interest particularly in cross-border follow-on proceedings could be considerably alleviated. This would enable the development of standardised software which could be used to quickly and accurately calculate interest on damages relating to breaches of competition rules across multiple jurisdictions.
It would therefore address the complex legal and economic issues and help to overcome existing hurdles which have slowed down private enforcement across the EU.