Solvay v European Commission

Area of law:

21 April 2013

Matthew represented multinational chemical manufacturer Solvay in its EU court appeal against a decision by the European Commission to fine it € 167 million for involvement in a cartel between European hydrogen peroxide manufacturers.

This case raised issues concerning both the concepts of ‘agreement’ and ‘concerted practice’ under EU competition law and the application of the Commission’s Leniency Notice, under which it reduces fines for companies that inform it of illegal cartel activity. Before the General Court, Matthew successfully obtained a reduction of € 28 million in the fine: the Commission had wrongly determined the duration of Solvay’s participation in the cartel and had not taken sufficient account of Solvay’s cooperation when applying its Leniency Notice. He also represented Solvay in a further appeal to the EU Court of Justice, successfully defending the Commission’s cross-appeal that the fine should be increased.