Information of leniency applicants in cartel damage claims

December 03, 2019

Each year in the European Union, cartels cause billions of Euros of damage. Nevertheless, damages actions are brought subsequent to only about 25 per cent of the antitrust proceedings completed by competition authorities (follow-on actions). In her dissertation, Katharina Helmdach, former research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, investigates one of the main obstacles to the enforcement of antitrust damages claims: the information gap between the parties.

The disclosure of information that is provided to antitrust authorities by cartel members applying for leniency programmes may be relevant for plaintiffs looking to substantiate their cartel damage claims. In this context, however, the plaintiffs' need for information collides with the state’s interest in maintaining effective leniency programmes. In her dissertation “Kronzeugeninformationen im kartellrechtlichen Schadensersatzprozess” (information of leniency applicants in cartel damage claims), Katharina Helmdach comparatively examines the treatment of such information in German, European and US law and thus studies how these regimes resolve the tension that arises between the public and private enforcement of antitrust law.

The analysis considers German law before and after the 9th amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC), European law (including the Damages Directive and the right of access to documents) and aspects of US law. In particular, the study discusses whether the provisions of the Damages Directive and the 9th Amendment to the ARC conflict with the primary law of the European Union. In accordance with US law, consideration is given to the introduction of a liability reduction for leniency applicants who cooperate in court proceedings.

The dissertation is accessible online at:

Katharina Helmdach, Kronzeugeninformationen im kartellrechtlichen Schadensersatzprozess. Eine Untersuchung des deutschen, des europäischen und des amerikanischen Rechts, PhD Thesis, Universität Hamburg 2018, 2019.
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