In 2011, CDC filed in the Netherlands a legal action enforcing claims for damages resulting from the Europe-wide paraffin wax cartel. Previously, CDC had acquired the claims from numerous purchasers of paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is mainly used for candle production, but has also a wide range of applications in packaging, cosmetics, construction and food industry.
By decision of 1 October 2008 (Case COMP/39181 – Candle Waxes), the European Commission found that following nine groups of companies participated in Europe-wide paraffin wax cartel from at least 1992 to 2005:
The paraffin wax cartel members committed a single and continuous infringement of the European cartel prohibition. In more than 50 meetings across Europe, hundred letters, faxes and emails they fixed target prices and monitored their implementation, allocated customers as well as market shares and exchanged commercially sensitive Information.
According to the Commission, the overall plan was to reduce and prevent competition on prices in order to stabilise or raise prices by agreeing on minimum prices and price increases. The cartel members aimed at significantly reducing or even eliminating competitive pressure with the ultimate goal of achieving higher profits. Five groups acknowledged their participation in the cartel and cooperated with the Commission under its leniency program.
In September 2011, CDC filed an action for damages resulting from the Paraffin Wax cartel against ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and Sasol. The lawsuit was brought in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Prior to lodging the action, CDC purchased the damage claims of eight companies, mostly candle producers, with production sites in five European countries.
The detailed transaction data collected by CDC from the damaged companies together with other market data show that the cartel resulted in significant price overcharges. These findings were confirmed by external economic experts. Purchasers of paraffin wax incurred damages for which the defendants are liable. Damages are increased by interest as of the day when they incurred.
On 1 May 2013, the District Court of The Hague rendered a judgment on preliminary issues. It confirmed that companies found by the Commission to have participated in the cartel can be sued together at the place where one cartel member is seated. Furthermore, the District Court rejected the argument that it lacked competence due to jurisdiction clauses allegedly agreed upon under some supply contracts for the purchase of Paraffin Wax.
On 17 December 2014, the District Court of The Hague rendered an interim judgment on the validity of the assignments and on applicable law. The Court confirmed CDC’s position on all relevant subject matters. In relation to the validity of the assignments the Court took account of the judgment of the Regional Court Düsseldorf in the Cement case and stated that the facts were case specific and the judgment could not be transposed to the case at hand. On 15 April 2015, the District Court of The Hague refused the defendants’ requests to grant an extraordinary appeal in relation to the Judgment of 17 December 2014. The District Court in particular stated that the Cement judgment of the Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf of 18 February 2015 did not have any relevance for the case pending before it.
In June 2015, as evident from Sasol’s public reporting, CDC achieved an out-of-court settlement with Sasol.
On 21 September 2016, the District Court of The Hague rendered an interim judgment on the effects of settlements, joint and several liability, passing-on defence, and disclosure of evidence in relation to the remaining three defendants.
- CDC Press release of 10/10/2011 (EN)
- CDC Press release on judgment Paraffin Wax Cartel 01/05/2013 (EN)
- Judgment of the District Court of The Hague – 1 May 2013 (NL)
- Interim Judgment of the District Court of The Hague – 17 December 2014 (NL)
- Judgment of the District Court of the Hague – 15 April 2015 (NL)
- Interim Judgment of the District Court of the Hague – 21 September 2016 (NL)
- Translation of Interim Judgment of the District Court of the Hague – 21 September 2016 (EN)
- CDC Press release on judgment of 12 October 2016 (EN)
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