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German Steel or Steal – have you been affected?

15 August 2018
scott fitzgibbon aylmer low
Read Time 4 mins reading time

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, also known as  Bundeskartellamt, recently imposed fines approximately totaling €205 million on six steel companies, a trade association and ten individuals for concluding price-fixing agreements and exchanging competitively sensitive information.  The effect of the price-fixing and exchange of information was to lessen competition in the marketplace, which in turn meant purchasers of the affected products were denied the benefits of a more competitive environment (ie. lower prices).

The companies involved were ArcelorMittal Commercial Long Deutschland GmbH, Cologne, Dörrenberg Edelstahl GmbH, Engelskirchen, Kind & Co. Edelstahlwerke GmbH & Co.KG, Wiehl, Saarstahl AG, Völklingen, Schmidt + Clemens GmbH + Co. KG, Lindlar, and Zapp Precision Metals GmbH, Schwerte. The trade association concerned was Edelstahl-Vereinigung e.V., which is now closed.

This arrangement has been going on since at least 2004 and continued on until November 2015. Products covered by the agreements include long steel products in particular engineering steel, tool steel and high-speed steel as well as stainless steel.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt said, “For years the companies have coordinated on important price components for the sale of special steel. By coordinating the calculation and implementation of uniform scrap and alloy surcharges across the sector and extensively exchanging competitively sensitive information, they have significantly restricted price competition between each other.”

Questions you should consider

  1. Did you have any dealings with these German companies or their dealers during the relevant period from 2005 onwards (2004 is time-barred) to November 2015?
  2. Did you pay for steel based on a price model which consists of the so-called “based price” and surcharges for certain inputs, especially scrap and alloys?

If so, we may be able to assist you to recover the loss you may have sustained by reason of purchasing in this competition-weakened environment.

What does this mean for you?

Following recent changes to the law in Germany, pursuing claims against cartelists identified by Bundeskartellamt is now a more streamlined process than standard litigation – the burden of proof, and the presumption of damage to end purchasers, now rest firmly in favour of purchasers.  These advantages also extend to purchasers who may have purchased the affected products through dealers of the cartelists.

Macpherson Kelley has extensive technical knowledge and industry experience advising parties on their rights in complex contracts and anti-competitive arrangements. Along with our German partners from our Multilaw network, HEUSSEN Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, we can provide you with assistance if you have been affected by this cartel conduct.

If you purchased products from one of the companies stated or their dealers during the relevant period, you should review the volumes purchased and prices paid and consider whether you may have suffered loss or damage in connection with such transactions. If you are unsure as to whether you may have suffered loss and damage, please let us know and we can assist you in your assessment.  Where loss is found, we can assist you with demands for compensation, negotiation and, if necessary, litigation. For further information, please contact us.

This article was written by Scott Fitzgibbon, Senior Associate – Commercial and Aylmer Low, Lawyer – Commercial. 

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German Steel or Steal – have you been affected?

15 August 2018
scott fitzgibbon aylmer low

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, also known as  Bundeskartellamt, recently imposed fines approximately totaling €205 million on six steel companies, a trade association and ten individuals for concluding price-fixing agreements and exchanging competitively sensitive information.  The effect of the price-fixing and exchange of information was to lessen competition in the marketplace, which in turn meant purchasers of the affected products were denied the benefits of a more competitive environment (ie. lower prices).

The companies involved were ArcelorMittal Commercial Long Deutschland GmbH, Cologne, Dörrenberg Edelstahl GmbH, Engelskirchen, Kind & Co. Edelstahlwerke GmbH & Co.KG, Wiehl, Saarstahl AG, Völklingen, Schmidt + Clemens GmbH + Co. KG, Lindlar, and Zapp Precision Metals GmbH, Schwerte. The trade association concerned was Edelstahl-Vereinigung e.V., which is now closed.

This arrangement has been going on since at least 2004 and continued on until November 2015. Products covered by the agreements include long steel products in particular engineering steel, tool steel and high-speed steel as well as stainless steel.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt said, “For years the companies have coordinated on important price components for the sale of special steel. By coordinating the calculation and implementation of uniform scrap and alloy surcharges across the sector and extensively exchanging competitively sensitive information, they have significantly restricted price competition between each other.”

Questions you should consider

  1. Did you have any dealings with these German companies or their dealers during the relevant period from 2005 onwards (2004 is time-barred) to November 2015?
  2. Did you pay for steel based on a price model which consists of the so-called “based price” and surcharges for certain inputs, especially scrap and alloys?

If so, we may be able to assist you to recover the loss you may have sustained by reason of purchasing in this competition-weakened environment.

What does this mean for you?

Following recent changes to the law in Germany, pursuing claims against cartelists identified by Bundeskartellamt is now a more streamlined process than standard litigation – the burden of proof, and the presumption of damage to end purchasers, now rest firmly in favour of purchasers.  These advantages also extend to purchasers who may have purchased the affected products through dealers of the cartelists.

Macpherson Kelley has extensive technical knowledge and industry experience advising parties on their rights in complex contracts and anti-competitive arrangements. Along with our German partners from our Multilaw network, HEUSSEN Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, we can provide you with assistance if you have been affected by this cartel conduct.

If you purchased products from one of the companies stated or their dealers during the relevant period, you should review the volumes purchased and prices paid and consider whether you may have suffered loss or damage in connection with such transactions. If you are unsure as to whether you may have suffered loss and damage, please let us know and we can assist you in your assessment.  Where loss is found, we can assist you with demands for compensation, negotiation and, if necessary, litigation. For further information, please contact us.

This article was written by Scott Fitzgibbon, Senior Associate – Commercial and Aylmer Low, Lawyer – Commercial.