In major developments, we discuss the implementation of the EU Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions in Belgian law. This new legal framework will facilitate the initiation of competition damage claims before the Belgian courts. Until now, damage claims before the Belgian Courts under Belgian tort law principles were quite rare, and not always successful. Notable examples include the damage claim (estimated at EUR 1.84 billion EUR) that was lodged by Base and Mobistar against Proximus for excessively high mobile termination rates, which was finally settled in 2015 after 12 years of litigation and the damage claim by the European Commission against elevator manufacturers (where the Commission had already imposed very high fines) which was rejected by the Brussels Commercial Court after 6 years of litigation because the EC failed to provide adequate proof of damage suffered. The case is currently on appeal. It remains to be seen whether the new legal regime, and in particular the legal presumption of damage which it introduces, will make damage claims in Belgium a more prominent feature.

We also focus on the ruling of the Court of Appeal In the AB Inbev case, which relates to a merger that was not subject to merger control, but which a third party tried to stop on abuse of dominance grounds. Whilst the Court has confirmed that a concentration will only fall under the abuse of a dominance rules in exceptional circumstances, this is a risk that merging parties should keep on their radar screen particularly when considering a transaction that would lead to high combined market shares post-transaction.

In the Netherlands we see continued investigations by the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM), as well as courts critically reviewing (and annulling) ACM decisions. In particular, we discuss the ACM fine in the forklift truck batteries cartel, as well as the fine on the Dutch railway operator NS for abusing its dominant position in a public transportation tender. We further cover the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal's annulment of fines imposed by the ACM on a large number of real estate traders. The Tribunal also reduced fines imposed by the ACM on demolition companies for bid-rigging. In addition, we discuss the judgment of the District Court of The Hague on the ACM's investigatory powers to select and inspect digital data. We report on the investigation launched by the ACM into a possible cartel in the bunker sector. Finally, we cover a recent judgment allowing a ban on online sales via an unauthorised third party platform.

We also summarise the Luxembourg Competition Authority's decision to reject a complaint against Amazon for alleged abuse of dominance in relation to the unilateral termination of an agreement for the supply of on-line third party platform services.

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