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Hoffmann-La Roche (ECJ)

Hoffmann-La Roche & Co. AG v Commission of the European Communities
Court of Justice of the European Communities, Case 85/76
Judgment of 13 February 1979 available online (HTML in capital letters)

Article 82: relevance of prejudice to consumers
Article numbers refer to the 1997 consolidated version of the EC Treaty.

This is an early case of abuse of a dominant position (Article 82), which is frequently quoted as a characterisation of competition law infringements by reference of a "prejudice to consumers".

Hoffmann-La Roche was found to have dominant position on markets for certain vitamins, and to have abused that position by entering into exclusive agreements or agreements containing exclusionary fidelity rebates with purchasers of vitamins.

The judgment (amended to reflect the new numbering of Treaty articles) states that:

"125. The prohibitions contained in Article 81 and Article 82 must be interpreted and applied in the light of Article 3(1)(g) of the Treaty which provides that the activities of the Community shall include the 'institution of a system ensuring that competition in the common market is not distorted' and Article 2 of the Treaty which gives the Community the task of promoting 'throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities'. By prohibiting the abuse of a dominant position within the market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States, Article 82 therefore covers not only abuse which may directly prejudice consumers but also abuse which indirectly prejudices them by impairing the effective competitive structure as envisaged by Article 3(1)(g) of the Treaty."

The principle that a finding of direct prejudice to consumers is not necessary to find an infringement of EC competition law has been subsequently confirmed in a number of cases, including in the UK in the Burgess case in 2005.

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Last changed by Franck at 9:28 PM on Tuesday 20 July 2010.

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Reckon Open "Hoffmann-La Roche" 2010-07-20T21:28:50
Link within Reckon Open: [[Hoffmann-La Roche]]