Important judgments in Air Cargo

Today, 1 May, the Amsterdam District Court rendered two important judgments in the cartel damages action in respect of the Air Cargo cartel.

Several known Airlines participated in this worldwide cartel and made illegal price fixing agreements in respect of Air Cargo. For years, the Airlines coordinated their action on surcharges for fuel and security without discounts. The aim of these contacts was to ensure that these surcharges were introduced by all the Airlines involved and that increases (or decreases) of the surcharge levels were applied in full without exception. A large number of buyers of Air Cargo services has incurred damages as the result of the activities of the cartel.

The Amsterdam District Court adopts a practical approach in international cartel damages actions such as Air Cargo. The damages claims in these actions – estimated at several hundreds of millions of euros – can be resolved in accordance with Dutch law. The cartel members wanted the court to rule on the damages claims in accordance with the laws of several hundreds of countries. That would have severely complicated and delayed the resolution of the damages claims.

The formal defence of the cartel members that in accordance with European law they are not liable for a part of the cartel period was neither accepted by the Amsterdam District court. Because the English courts came to a different conclusion in a similar case, the court will make a preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice on this issue.

The lawyers of Brande & Verheij LLP, who represent the claimants in this case, believe the judgments are an important step forward that should expedite the resolution of the damages claims.

For more information, please contact Theodoor Verheij.