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General Court confirms joint and several fine for parent company

In 2008 the European Commission (“Commission”) imposed a fine of over EUR 675 Mio. on nine companies for participating in a cartel lead by Sasol Ltd. from 1992 to 2005. The illegal agreements involved price fixing, market allocation and exchange of sensitive information regarding paraffin wax.

The market for paraffin wax is estimated at around EUR 500 Mio. It is used for a broad variety of products such as candles, paper cups, rubber, adhesives, chewing gums, etc. It is presumed that every household and company within the European Economic Area (EEA) paid increased prices for at least one or the other product.

The Commission imposed a fine of EUR 128 Mio. on Total Raffinage Marketing and held its parent company, Total S.A., jointly and severally liable for the infringement.

On 13.09.2013 the General Court confirmed the joint and several fine imposed by the Commission and dismissed the appeals lodged by Total SA and its subsidiary (see cases T-548/08, Total S.A. vs Commission, and T‑566/08, Total Raffinage Marketing vs Commission). However, the General Court concluded that the Commission erred in calculating the coefficient for the duration of the infringement and consequently reduced the fine for Total Raffinage Marketing by almost EUR 2.5 Mio.

Authors:

Dr. Christina Hummer
Ori Kahn