The High Court (Mr Justice Bryan) has decided  EWHC 3197 (Comm) to make a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in follow-on damages litigation concerning the European Commission’s Maritime Car Carriers infringement decision.
The Defendants applied for summary determination of the part of the claim relating to maritime car transport services (sometimes “roll-on roll-off” or “RoRo” services) between ports outside the European Economic Area prior to October 2006, or a reference to the CJEU concerning the legal foundation for this aspect of the claim.
The Defendants argued that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to consider this part of the claim, because prior to 18 October 2006 the rules implementing EC competition law (as it then was) did not apply to international maritime transport services outside the EC.
Bryan J decided to make a preliminary reference to the CJEU, in light of a difference in view on this question between the English Court of Appeal in La Gaitana Farms v British Airways  1 WLR 3792 (CA) (news article here) and the Amsterdam District Court in Stichting Cartel Compensation v KLM & Ors. The Dutch court has already made a preliminary reference asking for a ruling on the jurisdiction of the national court to consider such claims (Case C-819/19); the English court intends to ask the CJEU to consider whether the two references should proceed together, given the overlap in issues between them.
Bryan J also decided to refer an additional question concerning the effect of the Modernisation Regulation (Regulation 1/2003) on the jurisdiction of national courts to consider damages claims relating to maritime transport services outside the EEA in the period between 1 May 2004 and 18 October 2006.
The judgment is here.
Marie Demetriou QC and Daniel Piccinin acted for the 11th Defendant, NYK Group Europe Ltd, instructed by Steptoe & Johnson LLP.
Sarah Abram acted for the 12th Defendant, Compañia Sudamericana de Vapores SA, instructed by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.