June 13, 2024

CJEU rules that company wrongly fined for anti-competitive conduct is entitled to interest

On June 11, 2024, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) ruled that the European Commission must pay Deutsche Telekom AG, a German telecommunications company, interest on the amount of a fine that was wrongly imposed upon the company in 2014. Specifically, the CJEU ruled that the Commission was required to pay interest from the date when the company provisionally paid the fine in 2015 to the date of the Commission’s repayment of the fine in 2019. The ruling upholds a judgment by the General Court, which ordered the Commission to pay Deutsche Telekom approximately €1.8 million in interest. The CJEU reasoned that case law is “well-established” regarding competition fines that are annulled or reduced with retroactive effect by an EU Court.  In these cases, the CJEU agreed that the fine must be repaid, together with interest, from the date of the provisional payment to the date of repayment. However, the CJEU emphasized that this is not a question of default interest but rather the payment of interest “intended to compensate the undertaking at a standard rate for loss of enjoyment of the amount at issue.”

The case stems from a 2014 case in which the Commission imposed a €31 million fine on Deutsche Telekom for abuse of a dominant position in the Slovak broadband telecommunications market. While Deutsche Telekom provisionally paid the fine in full, its application to have the decision annulled was granted in part by the General Court in 2015, resulting in the reduction of the fine by almost €12 million – an amount that the Commission repaid in 2019.

CJEU Press Release | CJEU Judgment | General Court Judgment