Clariant v. Commission (Case T-590/20): The General Court endorses a systematic increase of the basic amount of the fine for purchasing cartels and assimilates these types of cartels to sales cartels for the purpose of analyzing recidivism, but does not punish Clariant for appealing a settlement decision

October 18, 2023

On October 18, 2023, the General Court delivered its judgment in Clariant v. Commission. It upheld the Commission’s settlement decision in the Ethylene case, following an appeal by Clariant, who argued that the Commission erred in: (i) applying a 50% recidivism multiplier to Clariant in circumstances where the previous infringement in which it had participated was not a purchasing cartel, but rather a sales cartel; and (ii) applying a 10% fine increase (to all participants) on account of the infringement being a purchasing cartel, to ensure adequate deterrence. 

The General Court also rejected a counterclaim lodged by the Commission, in which the Commission sought to increase the fine imposed on Clariant by removing its 10% settlement discount, on the basis that Clariant had accepted to be fined in the context of settlement proceedings.

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