Press and Information Division
PRESS RELEASE No 02/04
7 January 2004
Judgment of the Court of Justice in Cases C-204/00 P and others
By a decision of 1994, the Commission condemned a series of agreements and
practices in the European market in white and grey cement and imposed fines
amounting in all to approximately EUR 250 million.
On an action by the undertakings and associations of undertakings concerned, the Court
of First Instance of the EC, by a judgment delivered in 2000, essentially
upheld the Commission decision; however, it amended the fines imposed (to reflect the
undertakings' degree of involvement in the cartel) and reduced them to a total
of approximately EUR 110 million.
Six undertakings subsequently appealed to the Court of Justice.
In an appeal, the Court confines itself to examining questions of law, to
the exclusion of any assessment of the facts: it must ascertain that the
Court of First Instance did not make any errors of law or of
reasoning or distort the evidence.
In the judgment delivered today, the Court of Justice essentially upholds the judgment
of the Court of First Instance.
As regards the appeal brought by Buzzi Unicem SpA (formerly Unicem SpA), which
maintains that the Court of First Instance made an error of assessment by
making a double imputation of liability (at Community and national level) which was
inconsistent with the dropping of the national complaints and the decision of the
Italian competition authority, the Court of Justice endorses the findings of the Court
of First Instance. In order for there to be a double imputation of
liability, the facts, the offender and the legal interest protected must be identical.
The Court of First Instance correctly held that there was no identity between
the facts referred to by the decision of the Italian authority and those
referred to by the Commission decision.
The appeal lodged by Aalborg Portland A/S sought to establish, inter alia, that the Court of First Instance had incorrectly imputed to it the infringements committed by Aktieselkabet Aalborg Portland Cement Fabrik, on the ground that that undertaking had not ceased to exist, even though its economic activities had been transferred to Aalborg. The Court of Justice has upheld the decision whereby the Court of First Instance concluded that the two companies constitute the same economic entity (the undertaking run by Aalborg from 1990 is the same as that previously run by the other company).
As regards the determination of the fines, the assessment of their proportionality to the gravity and duration of the infringement falls within the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance. In its judgment, the Court of First Instance had reduced the fines imposed by the Commission proportionately, by establishing the actual duration of the undertakings' and associations' participation in the cartel (which was shorter than that found by the Commission).
The Court of Justice has substantially upheld the findings of the Court of
First Instance concerning the fines.
Only the amount of the fine imposed on Ciments français has been reduced
by the Court of Justice. Arguing that it had not assumed control of
its Belgian subsidiary until 1990, Ciments français contended that the turnover relating to
that subsidiary should be excluded from the calculation of the fine (as the
Court of First Instance had done in the case of the Spanish and
Greek subsidiaries, control of which Ciments français had also acquired in 1990).
Owing to that manifest error of assessment, the judgment of the Court of
First Instance is set aside as regards the amount of the fine imposed
on Ciments français. As the Court of Justice had before it all the
necessary evidence, it has given final judgment itself in the matter and -
on the basis of the figures provided by Ciments français and not disputed
by the Commission - reduced the fine imposed on Ciments français to EUR
Names of parties
Amount of fines imposed by the Commission
(Decision 94/815/CE of
Amount of fines imposed by the Court of First Instance
(judgment of 15 March 2000)
Amount of fines established by the Court of Justice
(judgment of 7 January 2004)
|C-211/00 P||Ciments français SA v Commission||25,768,000||13,570,000||9,620,000|
|C-204/00 P||Aalborg Portland A/S v Commission||4,008,000||2,349,000||Upheld|
|C-217/00 P||Buzzi Unicem SpA (formerly Unicem SpA) v Commission||11,652,000||6,399,000||Upheld|
|C-205/00 P||Irish Cement Ltd v Commission||3,524,000||2,065,000||Upheld|
|C-213/00 P||Italcementi Ԁ Fabbriche Riunite Cemento SpA v Commission||33,580,000||25,701,000||Upheld|
|C-219/00 P||Cementir Ԁ Cementerie del Tirreno SpA v Commission||8,248,000||7,471,000||Upheld|
Unofficial document for media use only; not binding on the Court of Justice
Available in Danish, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
The full text of the judgment can be found on the internet (www.curia.eu.int ).
In principle it will be available from midday CET on the day of delivery.
For further information please contact Christopher Fretwell
Tel: (00352) 4303 3355; Fax: (00352) 4303 2731
Judgment of the Court of First Instance of 15 March 2000, see
Press Release 16/00 (http://curia.eu.int/en/actu/communiques/cp00/aff/cp0016en.htm)
See table below.