EU Court of Justice: Case Note: Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd AG v European Commission
Court: Court of Justice
Date of ruling: 21 March 2019
Case name (short version): Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd and Others v European Commission
Case Citation: ECLI:EU:C:2019:235
- Key words
Appeal — Agreements, decisions and concerted practices — Market for car battery recycling — Decision finding an infringement of Article 101 TFEU and imposing fines — Correcting decision adding the value of purchases of the addressees which were not included in the initial decision — Time limit for bringing an action — Point from which time starts to run — Delay — Inadmissibility
- Basic context
By their appeal, Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd, Berzelius Metall GmbH and Société traitements chimiques des métaux (STCM) (together, ‘Eco-Bat’ or ‘the appellants’) seek to have set aside the order of the General Court of the European Union of 21 March 2018, Eco-Bat Technologies and Others v Commission (T‑361/17, not published, ‘the order under appeal’, EU:T:2018:173), by which the General Court dismissed as inadmissible their action seeking, first, annulment of Commission Decision C(2017) 900 final of 8 February 2017 relating to a proceeding under Article 101 TFEU (Case AT.40018 — Car battery recycling) (‘the initial decision’), as corrected by Commission Decision C(2017) 2223 final of 6 April 2017 (‘the amended decision’), and, secondly, a reduction of the amount of the fine imposed on Eco-Bat
- Points arising – admissibility
- Points arising – substance
25 As regards the substance, it is without erring in law that, after recalling that, under the sixth paragraph of Article 263 and the third subparagraph of Article 297(2) TFEU, the date to be taken into account for determining the starting point of the period prescribed for bringing annulment proceedings is the date of notification of the act in question where it specifies the person to whom it is addressed, the General Court, in paragraph 33 of the order under appeal, considered, referring to paragraph 47 of the judgment of 17 May 2017, Portugal v Commission (C‑337/16 P, EU:C:2017:381), that a decision is properly notified if it is communicated to the person to whom it is addressed and the latter is put in a position to become acquainted with it.
26 With regard to the latter condition, the Court considers that it is fulfilled when the person to whom a decision is addressed was in a position to become acquainted with the content of that decision and the grounds on which it is based (see, to that effect, judgment of 17 May 2017, Portugal v Commission, C‑337/16 P, EU:C:2017:381, paragraph 48).
27 It follows that an error or omission which, even if it is not purely formal in nature, does not prevent the addressee of the decision notified from becoming acquainted with the content and grounds of that decision, does not affect the period for bringing proceedings laid down in the sixth paragraph of Article 263 TFEU.
28 The General Court did not therefore err in law when it held, in paragraph 34 of the order under appeal, that an omission which does not affect the understanding of the reasons for the decision in question cannot prevent the application of the periods laid down by Article 263 TFEU.
31 In that regard, it should be noted that, under the second subparagraph of Article 256(1) TFEU and the first paragraph of Article 58 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, an appeal lies on points of law only. The General Court has exclusive jurisdiction to find and appraise the relevant facts and to assess the evidence. The appraisal of those facts and the assessment of that evidence does not, therefore, save where they have been distorted, constitute a point of law which is subject, as such, to review by the Court of Justice on appeal (judgment of 26 September 2018, Philips and Philips France v Commission, C‑98/17 P, not published, EU:C:2018:774, paragraph 40 and the case-law cited).
35 Pursuant to Article 169(2) of the Court’s Rules of Procedure, the pleas in law and legal arguments relied on in an appeal must identify precisely those points in the grounds of the General Court’s decision which are contested. That requirement is not satisfied by an appeal which, without even specifically identifying the error of law allegedly vitiating the judgment which is the subject of that appeal, confines itself to reproducing the pleas in law and arguments previously submitted to the General Court (judgment of 18 June 2015, Ipatau v Council, C‑535/14 P, EU:C:2015:407, paragraphs 56 and 57 and the case-law cited).
65 The Court notes that the principle which prevails in EU law is that of the unfettered evaluation of evidence, from which it results, first, that, where evidence has been obtained lawfully, its admissibility cannot be contested before the General Court and, secondly, that the only relevant criterion for the purpose of assessing the probative value of evidence lawfully adduced relates to its credibility (judgment of 19 December 2013, Siemens and Others v Commission, C‑239/11 P, C‑489/11 P and C‑498/11 P, not published, EU:C:2013:866, paragraph 128 and the case-law cited).
- Interim measures
1. Dismisses the appeal;
2. Orders Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd, Berzelius Metall GmbH and Société de traitements chimiques des métaux (STCM) to pay the costs.;
- Fine changed
- Case duration 10 months
- Judge-rapporteur Biltgen
- Advocate-general Pitruzzella
- Notes on academic writings
* The EY Law EU Competition Case Note provides an extract of the key points arising in a case, it is thus not a comprehensive summary. The Case Note only provides information that is in the public domain.