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EU Court Adviser Opposes Deutsche Telekom’s Bid for Antitrust Fine Interest

 |  November 23, 2023

An adviser to Europe’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has recommended the dismissal of Deutsche Telekom’s bid to secure interest on a reimbursed portion of an antitrust fine imposed nearly a decade ago. The adviser, Anthony Michael Collins, suggested that judges should reject the telecommunications giant’s request.

This decision follows a trend of companies demanding that antitrust enforcers pay default interest on fines in annulled antitrust cases. One of the most notable cases in this context is Intel, which is seeking 593 million euros ($646.8 million) in interest on a reimbursed fine of 1.06 billion euros. Deutsche Telekom pursued legal action after the EU competition enforcer declined to pay interest for the period between the payment and the reimbursement, garnering support from judges in its fight. The European Commission subsequently appealed to the CJEU, leading to the current developments.

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Collins, the CJEU advocate general, aligned himself with the Commission’s position. He argued that judges should follow suit due to legal errors made by the General Court. Collins emphasized, “In February 2019, the Commission complied with the 2018 judgment by refunding that part of the fine that had been annulled. It follows that the only default interest that the Commission might be liable to pay relates to the period as between those two dates.”

He further criticized the General Court’s judgment, stating, “In so far as the General Court, in the judgment under appeal, established an obligation to pay default interest in respect of a period prior to the date of the delivery of the 2018 judgment, it erred in law.”

The CJEU, known for following four out of five such recommendations, is expected to deliver its ruling on the matter next year. This non-binding opinion by Advocate General Collins provides insight into the legal intricacies surrounding the demand for interest on reimbursed antitrust fines, setting the stage for a significant decision that could impact similar cases in the future.
Source: Reuters