Judgment (First Defendant's Rule 40 Application)

Neutral citation:

[2011] CAT 16

Published:

25 May 2011

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Summary:

Judgment of the Tribunal on an application by Morgan Crucible Company plc (“the First Defendant”) to strike out the claims against it on the ground that they had not been brought within the time limit stipulated by Rule 31 of the Competition Appeal Tribunal Rules 2003 (“the Tribunal Rules”).

It was common ground that between the parties that a claim for damages must be made within a period of two years beginning with the “relevant date” which, in these claims, was the end of the period specified in section 47A(7) or (8) of the Competition Act 1998 Act in relation to the European Commission decision of 3 December 2003 on the basis of which these claims had been made.

The crucial difference between the parties turned on the meaning of “decision”. According to Morgan Crucible, the “decision” referred to in section 47A(8)(a) means a decision concerning a specific defendant to the section 47A claim, as opposed to all the addressees of the decision serving as the trigger for the follow on claim. The Claimants’ contention was the precise reverse: “decision” referred to a decision concerning all addressees of the decision.

The Tribunal held that “decision” must mean the operative part of the decision that finds an infringement in respect of a particular defendant to the section 47A claim. The Tribunal considered the statutory construction to be clear and did not lead to an outcome that could be described as inconvenient, still less unworkable or absurd. The Tribunal also rejected the Claimants’ contention that the First Defendant’s application was an abuse of process.

The Tribunal unanimously concluded that the First Defendant was entitled to make its application; that the claims against the First Defendant had not been brought within the time limit laid down by Rule 31 of the Tribunal Rules; and that the claims against the First Defendant be struck out.

This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.