EC ponders appeal in €31.7m Grolsch cartel case

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

EC ponders appeal in €31.7m Grolsch cartel case
The European Commission (EC) said it will analyse last week's ruling of the European General Court before deciding whether to appeal, after the latter annulled a €31.7m fine levied on Grolsch for cartel activity.

EC spokeswoman Amelia Torres told BeverageDaily.com: "We will analyse the ruling carefully. But it is worth noting that the 2007 decision was recently confirmed, for the largest part, by the court in the appeals by the other cartel participants, Heineken (with a final fine of €198 million) and Bavaria (with a final fine of €20.71 million).

"The Commission will consider today's judgment carefully in order to decide whether or not to appeal the court's judgment or to readopt the decision," ​Torres added.

The Grolsch fine was levied back in April 2007, when the European Commission (EC) penalised the Holland's major brewers for price-fixing between February 1996 to November 1999.

Heineken in Holland and its subsidiary, Bavaria NV and Koninklijke Grolsch NV (a SABMiller subsidiary) were fined a total of €273m for anti-trust activity.

The brewers sold beer in Holland via the on-trade, for consumption on the premises (hotels, restaurants, cafés), and the off-trade for home consumption (supermarkets and off-licences).

But the General Court ruled last week​ that the EC had “failed to explain” ​what led it to determine the ‘legal person’ responsible for running Grolsch's Dutch subsidiary (privy to price-fixing meetings) when the infringement was committed.

Thus, that person was unable to answer for the infringement or perhaps rebut the presumption that Koninklijke Grolsch decisively influenced its subsidiary, the court concluded.

The EC now has two months to appeal against the decision.

SABMiller was unavailable for comment.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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