The Directive on antitrust damages actions was finally adopted by the Council of Ministers of the European Union on 10 November 2014. This long-awaited Directive aims to facilitate antitrust damage actions to compensate victims of infringements of EU competition law. As many competition law infringements have cross-border effects across the EU, the Damages Directive provides a common framework to ensure a level playing field across the Member States.
The provisions of the Directive will apply to all damages actions, whether individual or collective, which are available in the Member States. It also seeks to improve the relationship between private enforcement of the EU antitrust rules through damages actions and public enforcement of those rules by the Commission and national competition authorities. Notably, a final infringement decision of a national competition authority will constitute full proof before civil courts in the same Member State that the infringement occurred.
Member States have two years to implement this Directive, however, limited changes may be required to our national laws. The 2011 amendments to the Competition Act introduced a specific right to damages in the context of competition law. Furthermore, in 2012, the Collective Proceedings Act also introduced class actions in respect of infringements of the Maltese or EU competition rules.