Πέμπτη, 1 Αυγούστου 2013

The Hellenic Competition Commission is ordered to pay EUR 350.000 for compensation for moral harm due to the excessive delay in adopting a decision


The Administrative Court of Appeal in Athens with its June 26, 2903/2013 decision awarded the applicant Floras Bookshops, a chain of seller of books operating in Greece specialized in educational foreign language books, damages for non-material harm owing to the significant delay of Hellenic Competition Commission in adopting a final decision upon complaint.

In 2003 the applicant lodged a complaint with the HCC concerning restrictive practices (anticompetitive rebate schemes, obstructing parallel imports etc) conducted by a major wholesaler of foreign language books in Greece, Apollon limited company, with which top publishers like Pearson Education LTD had exclusive contracts.

The HCC reached a decision in 2009, about 76 months later from the day that the complaint filed, assessing the existence of collective dominant position in the of foreign language books in Greece among Apollon LTD and Eystathiades LTD (about 60% market shares in 2006) and imposing fines against the violating undertakings.

The Administrative Court of First Instance with its decision 19851/2010 dismissed the claimant’s action for compensation for the material and non-material damage allegedly suffered by the HCC failure to adopt a decision within a reasonable period on the ground that HCC decision was initiated within a reasonable period.

The Floras Bookshops brought an appeal before the Administrative Court of Appeal, which overturned the lower court ruling and decided the case itself.

The Court of Appeal pointed out that the reasonable period of time is to be assessed case by case, in particular in relation to importance of the case to the applicant, the complexity of the case, the applicant's conduct and the conduct of the competent authorities. The Court considering the average time needed for HCC to deliver a judgment (about 42 months) and the fact that the HCC has not shown that the 76 months delay in question is justified on the basis of the above criteria, ruled out that the 34 months constitute undue delay.

After that, the Court awarded the applicant non-material damages of EUR 350.000 plus interest, from the time at which the action was brought, at a rate of 6% per year.

The decision is subject to appeal (cassation) before the Supreme Administrative Court (Council of State) for legal reasons only.