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Deutsche Telekom Wins Legal Battle for EU Antitrust Fine Interest Reimbursement

 |  June 11, 2024

On Tuesday, Deutsche Telekom secured a significant legal victory as the European Union’s highest court ruled in its favor, mandating that EU antitrust regulators pay interest on a reimbursed portion of a fine. This ruling could set a positive precedent for other companies with similar claims, including Intel, which is pursuing a 593-million-euro ($638 million) claim, according to a Reuters report.

In recent years, numerous companies have sought compensation for default interest on fines related to annulled antitrust cases, with total claims amounting to approximately 800 million euros. Intel’s case is the most prominent among these, underscoring the widespread impact of the court’s decision.

The case traces back to 2014 when the European Commission imposed a 31-million-euro fine on Deutsche Telekom for charging unfair wholesale prices in Slovakia. A lower tribunal later reduced this penalty to 19 million euros and ordered the Commission to pay around 1.8 million euros in interest. However, the EU competition enforcer initially repaid the difference but did not include the interest for the period between the payment and reimbursement.

Read more: EU Court Rules Deutsche Telekom’s Slovak Business Cannot Avoid Fine

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) sided with Deutsche Telekom, emphasizing that the European Commission must pay interest on fines it has unduly imposed and provisionally collected. “That interest is intended to compensate, at a standard rate, the undertaking concerned for the loss of enjoyment of the amount in question,” the judges stated.

The ruling specified that the applicable interest rate is the European Central Bank refinancing rate plus 3.5 percentage points. A Commission spokesperson acknowledged the judgment, stating, “The Commission will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

Source: Reuters