Court reduces E.U. fine for DaimlerChrysler
15 September 2005, LUXEMBOURG - European Union judges sharply reduced Thursday a fine imposed on DaimlerChrysler for restraint of trade, ruling that the German-American automotive group must only pay EUR 9.8 million, a seventh of the original E.U. fine.
15 September 2005
LUXEMBOURG - European Union judges sharply reduced Thursday a fine imposed on DaimlerChrysler for restraint of trade, ruling that the German-American automotive group must only pay EUR 9.8 million, a seventh of the original E.U. fine.
The ruling was a blow to the European Commission's crusade against inflated car prices in some E.U. markets, which it blames on car companies that obstruct imports of their same models from E.U. countries where the cars are available more cheaply.
DaimlerChrysler had challenged a Commission fine of 71.83 million euros. The court in Luxembourg largely agreed, saying the company had not employed illegal methods to obstruct so-called parallel imports of Mercedes cars into high-priced Germany and Spain.
However judges backed the Commission's 2001 finding of price- fixing in Belgium and left that part of the fine in place. In Stuttgart, DaimlerChrysler said it would study the judgement and consider whether to appeal against this as well.
In Brussels, a Commission spokesman said the executive would also review whether to appeal to the European Court of Justice. Any appeal must be filed within two months.
According to Commission evidence, the company told Mercedes outlets in Germany not to sell abroad and to insist on down-payments from foreign customers.
The court said the dealers were effectively DaimlerChrysler staff, but the law only forbade obstruction of trade in concert with other companies, not when it happened unilaterally from the manufacturer.
The Commission has had a mixed record before the courts.
The same bottom level court quashed in 2003 a EUR 31-million E.U. fine imposed on Volkswagen, but two years ago the Court of Justice approved a 90-million-fine against Volkswagen for blocking sales in Italy.
The bottom-level court slightly reduced a fine imposed two years ago on the Dutch arm of General Motors, cutting the sum from EUR 43 million to EUR 35.47 million.
Subject: German news