Important judgments in Dutch air cargo proceedings
On 1 May 2019, the Amsterdam district court rendered three important judgments in the air cargo cartel litigation cases, in which claimants seek compensation from various airlines for damages suffered as a result of the air cargo cartel.
The first judgment addresses the argument of the airlines that the Dutch court is not competent to apply the EU cartel prohibition to air transport between EU airports and airports in third countries in the period before 1 May 2004 as a result of certain EU legislation and case law of the European Court of Justice. The court rejects this argument and finds that it is competent and obliged to apply the EU cartel prohibition in this civil law procedure in view of its direct effect. The court’s jurisdiction cannot be limited as a result of the manner in which the public enforcement of the EU cartel prohibition has been organised. The court nevertheless decides to ask the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on this issue, referring to the fact that the High Court in London reached a different conclusion and that it is important that the competition rules are applied uniformly in the EU.
In the second judgment and the third judgment, the court addresses the question which law is applicable to the damages claims where these claims relate to a cartel which covered many flights to and from many countries, and which has had an effect in many jurisdictions, including the Netherlands. Taking account of the various facts and circumstances, and also for reasons of efficiency, the court rules that Dutch law governs the damages claims. The court has allowed an interim appeal against its judgment and it can be expected that this issue will continue in the higher court.