The principle of ‘group liability’ can have huge significance for corporate groups yet there has been considerable uncertainty about its nature and scope. The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ’s) ruling in Akzo answers some questions but raises others. Does the logic of the ‘wholly owned’ presumption apply to shareholdings of less than but near to100%? How can the presumption be rebutted in practice? What is the position with respect to part-owned subsidiaries? What is the standard of proof?
This article considers the current position on group liability for cartel infringements under EU competition law, setting out and explaining in detail the basis on which parent companies may be held accountable for antitrust offences carried out by their subsidiaries. It goes on to consider how the principle might best be applied to achieve the overall regulatory goals of maximum deterrent effect while ensuring the fairest outcome in every case. In conclusion, the article suggests the need for a specific set of Commission Guidelines laying down the broad parameters of the group liability in EU competition law.World Competition