Zenith CC&P Current Awareness

​Court of Justice rules on limitation periods under national law

29 March 2019

Prof. Suzanne Rab

The Court of Justice has ruled on a request for a preliminary ruling from a Portuguese court on the application of Directive 2014/104 (the EU Damages Directive) to national law limitation periods in competition damages claims.

The request relates to an action by Cogeco Cable seeking compensation as a result of an abuse of dominance by Sport TV which had been established by the Portuguese Competition Authority, albeit turned over on appeal.

Before implementation of the Damages Directive in Portugal, national law provided a limitation period of three years running from when the person harmed was aware of its right to compensation. There was no procedure for suspending the period during an investigation by the competition authority.

The Court of Justice ruled that the EU Damages Directive did not apply to actions commenced before its entry into force.  However, the Court ruled that the national limitation rules were not compatible with Article 102 TFEU and the principle of effectiveness.

In particular, the Court ruled that short limitation periods that start to run before the injured party is able to identify the infringer may make bringing claims excessively difficult or practically impossible.  It also ruled that a limitation period that cannot be suspended during an investigation by a competition authority or appeal may mean that a person harmed would find it impossible to bring an action based on a final finding of infringement.

Case C-637/17, Cogeco Communications Inc v Sport TV Portugal and Others ECLI:EU:C:2019:263

Current Awareness

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