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General Court sides against Commission in battle over document access

 |  May 22, 2012

The General Court has sided with EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG in its battle for documents related to a European Commission cartel investigation. The Court annuled the Commission’s decision to refuse access to the documents, rejecting the Commission’s argument that “the concept of ‘investigations’ cannot be limited, in the sphere of cartels, to the proceedings leading up to a decision prohibiting the cartel but must be regarded as an integral part of the Commission’s regular, ongoing task of enforcing EU competition law.” The Court found this interpretation to be too broad.

EnBW was the victim of a gas-insulated switchgear price-fixing cartel. The ten companies involved in the cartel were fined by the Commission in 2007. In the same year, EnBW sought access to the documents related to the proceedings, including the formal complaint and documents seized from the company offices, to prepare for its lawsuits against the companies for damages. The Commission resisted EnBW’s efforts, citing its need to protect immunity and leniency programs for whistle-blowers, as well as its own internal documents.

Full content: General Court judgment


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