Litigation update

24.01.2014

Companies in sectors where IP and innovation are important often find themselves embroiled in litigation – and sometimes that litigation even involves competition law! A current example is the litigation in the UK against Reckitt Benckiser following the OFT’s investigation into the marketing of Gaviscon (see brief comment on current position here). It is always worth keeping an eye on how the litigation environment is shaping up and a couple of recent developments may be of interest which we summarise below.
‘Sharpening the CAT’s claws’
The UK government is significantly reforming competition law private actions with a view to making it easier for consumers and businesses to obtain redress where there has been a competition law infringement. The reforms are contained in the Consumer Rights Bill which was introduced into the House of Commons on 23 January and is currently passing through the legislative process. Related to this, the government consulted last year on reforms aimed at streamlining competition appeals.
To see a full copy of an article on the reforms, please click here.
‘The Commission’s Draft Directive on Damages: an end in sight?’
Following the Commission’s proposal for a draft Directive on damages actions for breaches of EU competition law published in June 2013, EU institutions and Member States have been seeking to refine the text of the Directive and reach consensus on a number of key issues. It remains to be seen whether Commissioner Almunia’s target of reaching agreement on its text before the end of the current term of Parliament will be met. To read more about the main issues to be addressed by the Directive and the provisions that appear to be most controversial (as evidenced by the current divergence of opinion between the Commission and the Council), please click here.
It is not yet clear how much of a direct impact the Directive will have on standalone competition actions (where both liability and quantum are addressed), or where competition issues arise in the context of other disputes such as IP litigation where a ‘competition defence’ is pleaded. The reforms to the powers of the CAT may be of more direct interest to those active in the IP/competition arena.

Helen Hopson

Author