15 September 2005
Press and Information
15 September 2005
DaimlerChrysler AG v Commission of the European Communities
The Court of First Instance reduces the fine imposed by the Commission on DaimlerChrysler for restricting parallel trade in Mercedes-Benz vehicles from €71 825 000 to €9 800 000
It annuls the Commission’s decision in so far as it accuses DaimlerChrysler of anticompetitive conduct in Germany and Spain, but upholds the decision with respect to its conduct in Belgium.
By decision of 10 October 2001, the Commission of the European Communities found that DaimlerChrysler AG had, itself or through its Belgian and Spanish subsidiaries, infringed the Community rules on competition by concluding agreements with its distributors in Germany, Belgium and Spain on retail sales of cars of the Mercedes-Benz make. It fined DaimlerChrysler a total of EUR 71 825 000, namely:
DaimlerChrysler brought an action for the annulment of that decision before the Court of First Instance, which gave judgment today.
With respect to the alleged anticompetitive conduct of DaimlerChrysler in Germany, the Court recalls that, while the EC Treaty prohibits coordinated anticompetitive conduct by two or more undertakings, the unilateral conduct of a manufacturer is not covered by that prohibition. The Court finds that DaimlerChrysler acted unilaterally. The German agents must be assimilated to employees of DaimlerChrysler and regarded as integrated into that undertaking and forming an economic unit with it. Neither their activity of soliciting orders for cars with a view to transmitting them to DaimlerChrysler nor the other services supplied by them for DaimlerChrysler, such as repairs and after-sales service, are associated with a commercial risk which could allow them to be classified as independent operators.
With respect to the conduct of DaimlerChrysler in Spain, the Court finds that under Spanish law every leasing company must already have an identified customer for the leasing contractat the time of acquiring the vehicle. The restrictions of which DaimlerChrysler is accused thus derive from the applicable legislation, so that they are not contrary to the prohibition of agreements in the EC Treaty.
The Court confirms, however, that DaimlerChrysler participated, through its Belgian subsidiary, in an "anti-price-slashing" agreement with the Belgian dealers. The agreement was intended to restrict price competition in Belgium by introducing detection and deterrent measures against discounts of more than 3% for the E-class.
Consequently, the Court annuls the part of the Commission’s decision relating to the conduct of DaimlerChrysler in Germany and Spain, and reduces the fine to EUR 9 800 000.
REMINDER: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice of the European Communities against a decision of the Court of First Instance, within two months of its notification.
 Commission Decision 2002/758/EC of 10 October 2001 relating to a proceeding under Article 81 of the EC Treaty (Case COMP/36.264 – Mercedes-Benz) (OJ 2002 L 257, p. 1).