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News Worms


European Union top court orders re-examination of Intel fine

European Union top court orders re-examination of Intel fine

The Commission said it would study the judgment carefully and that it was up to the General Court to review its decision.

"This is a very short judgment, just 20 pages long despite taking three years to produce". Intel has been appealing this fine for years and now the European Court of Justice has ordered that the case be revisited in a lower court.

The Register notes that the fine itself was not kicked out, but a decision made by the lower court is being called into question.

Regulators have generally frowned upon rebates, especially those offered by dominant companies, on the theory they are anti-competitive in nature. If the Commission includes in its decision 200 pages of economic assessment to bolster its findings, it must be held accountable for any errors therein,' claims Georg Berrisch, partner at legal firm Baker Botts' Brussels office, of the ruling. So if a dominant company knocks out a competitor that is less efficient, that's not really anti-competitive behaviour. Article 102 TFEU, may be objectively justified.

An appeal by the chip giant was rejected in 2014. "The court sent the case back to the General Court for reassessment in light of its holding".

The GC had ruled that the Commission was only required to record "formal" interviews.

Importantly, the ECJ has not overturned the original ruling, yet Intel is likely to take heart at the decision. The ECJ found that Intel had failed to do so.

"This is certainly a defeat for the European Commission and indicates a certain relaxation of the formalistic case law on abuse of dominance", said Assimakis Komninos, a lawyer at White & Case. Although jurisdiction based on so-called "qualified effects" has always been asserted by the Commission, the ECJ has never previously expressly endorsed it (despite being urged to do so by several Advocates General over the years).

As Intel had submitted to the Commission that its conduct was not capable of restricting competition by producing the alleged foreclosure effects, the CJEU said the Commission was required to analyse, for example, the share of the market covered by the challenged practice, the conditions for granting the rebates, their duration and their amount. In its Wednesday ruling, the ECJ determined that the EGC must now reexamine how much such rebates hindered competition from AMD. "Post-Brexit, this could very well include cases against United Kingdom companies even when the conduct is arguably within the United Kingdom with limited effects on the European Union market".

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