Parental Liability in EU Competition Law: The House Always Wins

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Parental Liability in EU Competition Law: The House Always Wins

This article discusses parental liability in EU competition law. Ten years on from the landmark ruling in Akzo Nobel which confirmed the rebuttable presumption of decisive influence in the case of a wholly owned subsidiary, a significant number of EU cases have helped clarify the application of this controversial rule. Yet, complexities and uncertainties remain, as illustrated by the Sumal case, in which the Court of Justice recently received a preliminary reference on 3 December 2019 regarding whether a non-participating subsidiary could incur liability for the infringement of its parent company. Although the Irish Courts have yet to substantively consider liability based on the EU competition law notion of an ‘undertaking’, recent developments suggest that this may soon change. As a result of Court of Justice rulings in 2019 such as Skanska and Tibor-Trans, the implementation of the Damages Directive and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Irish Courts are more likely to deal with cases involving parental liability over the coming years.